Preparing your business for the next hurricane
Having a hurricane bearing down on you and yours is a tense situation for anyone under any circumstances. But if you run a business your concerns can be even greater, as responsible as you are to employees, customers and often shareholders.
This has been quite a year, and you may already have been dealing with unprecedented business stresses because of COVID-19. But you know what? Hurricanes don’t care about that. They come when they come. And you have to be ready.
There’s no shortage of advice out there on how to get ready, as you can tell by simply Googling “how a business should prepare for a hurricane.” But it’s a lot to absorb – too much, really, for a busy business owner or manager who has enough to worry about without gale-force winds coming into the picture.
So we’ve taken the time to distill and condense some of the good advice that’s out there, offered by the government, by insurance companies, and by news media. Here’s our version:
- Have a plan. Don’t wait and figure it out when you’re already in a panic. While the weather is calm, draw up your plan and communicate it to the right people. Create checklists. Review your contractual obligations to make sure you can meet them in spite of the weather. Map evacuation routes. Have a two-way communication system for being in touch with all your people during the emergency.
- Create an emergency response team, which is steeped in the plan and ready to lead your organization in implementing it. Charge the team members with becoming experts, by studying readiness beyond what we list here.
- Protect what matters most. That means protecting your people first, then your facilities, your inventories and your records. Back up all of your data! Before trouble strikes, inventory all of your assets, to make sure you don’t forget anything important.
- To elaborate on the last bullet: There is a lot to consider just in protecting your physical plant, and your team should have it all in its checklist: Unplug all electrical equipment, including computers, refrigerators, coffee makers, printers, copy machines, phones and televisions. Cover large windows and glass doors with plywood, and tape smaller windows in an X pattern. Move all vehicles into a garage, if feasible. Secure anything on your grounds – garbage bins, planters, signs – that could be picked up and become a dangerous missile during the storm.
- If your type of business makes this possible, have a plan to operate remotely, in case you can’t get back to your normal business location for a while.
- Let your customers in on the situation, especially if the storm has the potential to interrupt your service. That communications plan mentioned above should include not only staying in touch with employees, but with everyone who matters to your business, including customers and vendors. In a way, communicating about COVID interruptions may have helped you be ready for this.
- Make sure you have the right insurance coverage. No, it’s not just us saying it. In fact, one government source out there listed this first – and if fact, chronologically speaking, it should be the first thing you do, long before the storm starts crossing the ocean in your direction.
And we can help you with that. Contact one of our experienced, professional independent brokers, and we’ll assess your needs and point you toward the best coverage.