How to Prepare a Business for a Hurricane
According to the National Hurricane Survival Initiative, 40 percent of businesses that close due to a hurricane don’t reopen. Don’t let your business become one of them. Hurricanes can do major damage if you’re not prepared. Know your threat level, and act accordingly.
Is your area prone to hurricanes? Get ready now. Don’t wait for a projected storm. This way you can act quickly and efficiently should a storm system arise.
Prevent Property Damage
There’s no guaranteed way to protect your property during a hurricane. However, you can take steps to minimize damage. Keep up with regular maintenance so you’re always prepared for severe weather. Have the roofing inspected annually. Schedule repairs or replacements as needed. Be vigilant about trimming back trees. This helps to lessen your risk from falling branches.
Inside your business, anchor large pieces of furniture or shelving. Secure these to wall studs with braces where possible. Keep your water heater and gas tanks on risers to protect them from flooding. Keep these measures in place year-round. This way, you’ll have less on your to-do list as a storm approaches.
Stock up on the appropriate supplies at the beginning of hurricane season. Keep them on hand year-round. Don’t wait until a hurricane is in the forecast. You’ll likely find shortages of many things you need. Items to have on hand include:
- Plywood to cover doors and windows
- Sandbags to block off areas likely to flood
- Straps to secure office equipment and other items
Keep Critical Documents Safe
The cloud is the best place to store important documents. If you do keep paper files, these should be stored in a waterproof container. Make sure it’s well-secured at your business location. This should contain tax documents and insurance papers. You should also store contact information for lawyers, clients, and other important people.
Stock an Emergency Kit
Keep a well-stocked emergency kit on-site. This should include a three-day supply of food and water for the maximum number of employees who might be there. You’ll also need:
- Battery operated radio
- First aid kit
- Tool kit
- Flashlights and batteries
- Electric generator
- Gas for vehicles and equipment
- Emergency flares
- Blankets, pillows, and cots or sleeping bags
Get the Right Insurance
You should carry business insurance at all times that will protect you from the dangers of a hurricane. If you’re unsure about your coverage, speak with your insurance representative to make sure you’re well-protected. Maintain a complete inventory of your business. Use photos or video so you have a clear record. This helps if you need to replace critical items or rebuild your location. Document the business both inside and out. Keep this documentation stored safely in the cloud.
Implement an Action Plan
It’s easy to get flustered with a hurricane approaching. Put a clear written plan in place ahead of time. This makes final preparations as easy as working down a checklist. This plan should remind you or your employees to:
- Shut off utilities
- Protect doors and windows with shutters or plywood
- Place sandbags in designated areas
- Tie down equipment
- Bring outdoor furniture inside or tie down securely
- Make sure vehicles are serviced, fueled, and stored safely
- Relocate materials and equipment associated with construction
Decide which employees will be responsible for these jobs. You may have a voluntary hurricane crew that’s assigned to handle emergency preparations. All unnecessary employees should be sent home so you’re using the smallest staff possible.
You should also have an action plan for recovering after a hurricane. This will include documenting damage, filing insurance claims, and cleaning up. You should also have a plan for communicating with your customers.
If you work with clients outside the immediate area, let them know that you may be temporarily unavailable when a hurricane is expected. Reach out again as soon as the threat has passed. If you operate a brick and mortar location, use social media or local signage to let your customers know when you’re open and available to serve them again.
Though hurricanes present a very serious threat, there’s a lot you can do minimize the damage. Educate your employees. Maintain your building. Keep essential supplies on hand. Check your emergency kit annually. If the weather is calm, you can keep many items in storage for years.
Stay calm when a hurricane is predicted. Follow your emergency plan to secure your business throughout the worst of the storm. Having this written document will make sure you don’t for a thing. With smart planning, you can recover quickly when the weather has passed.