It’s National Hurricane Preparedness Week! It’s important to be prepared. Hurricane Season in the Atlantic Basin runs from June 1 to November 30 each year. Check out these great tips to get your business prepared.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a normal Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which 6 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes. This year, numerous reports anticipate higher than normal activity, including 14-18 tropical storms. Of those storms, seven to nine are forecast to become hurricanes, and two to four are predicted to strengthen into major hurricanes.
1. Determine Your Risk
It’s not just those along the coast that can experience significant, life-threatening impacts. The threats from hurricanes can vary widely depending on where you live. Evaluate what you need to do to protect your business and communicate with your team before the first storm of the season even forms.
2. Develop An Evacuation Plan
Now is the time to develop your hurricane evacuation plan. Find out if you’re located in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone. If you are, figure out where you’d go and how you’d get there if told to evacuate. You do not need to travel hundreds of miles. It’s essential to have a Business Continuity Plan in place. As hurricane season approaches, listen to local officials on questions related to how you may need to adjust any evacuation plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines per local officials. Find Your Evacuation Zone
3. Assemble Emergency Supplies
Stock up on supplies now. Remember, water and electricity could be out for a week or more. Have enough supplies on-hand at your business and home is important. FEMA recommends enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family for a minimum of one week. Don’t forget pet food. Also make sure you have extra cash, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, and a portable crank or solar powered USB charger to charge your cell phone. The CDC recommends if you need to go to a public shelter, bring at least two cloth face coverings for each person and, if possible, hand sanitizer. (Children under two years old and people having trouble breathing should not wear face coverings).
4. Review Your Insurance Policies
This is an essential step often missed! Call your insurance agent and ask for an insurance checkup to make sure you have enough business insurance coverage. Ensure you’re adequately covered and that you fully understand exclusions. Some policies have increased deductibles for hurricanes and not all hurricane related losses are covered under traditional policies. Most insurance policies do not automatically cover flooding, and you’ll usually need a separate policy for that. Floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster and cause millions of dollars in damage every year. Recovering from just one inch of water inside your building can cost about $27,000. Learn more about FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Act now as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period. Ensure that your insurance policies are printed and saved online and backed up on the cloud so they’re easily accessible when you need them. It’s also a good idea to create a Business Inventory List, and include major office equipment, supplies and other high ticket items along with photographs in the instance you ever need to file a claim.
5. Prepare Your Property
Ensure that your business is ready to withstand heavy winds and rains. Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors of your properties. If you plan to ride out a hurricane at home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications and that you have shutters or plywood ready to install. Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand high winds. Check out FEMA’s Mitigation Fact Sheets.
6. Plan Ahead With Your Community
Learn about all the different actions you can take to prepare and recover from the hazards associated with hurricanes. Start the conversation now in your community with these Neighbor Helping Neighbor strategies, and remember you may need to adjust your preparedness plans based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC and your local officials.
7. Create Your Business Continuity Plan
It’s imperative to have an updated Business Continuity Plan in place. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), if a business doesn’t have a Business Continuity Plan in place, 40% of small businesses won’t reopen after a storm event, 25% of businesses will close within one year, and 75% of businesses without a Continuity Plan will fail. Don’t be a statistic! It is important to have a Business Continuity Plan for your company and even more important that everyone understands it and you have strategies in place in the event of a storm. A Business Continuity Plan includes employee communication protocols, data, computer network, server, IT, infrastructure, and backup support should your business be affected by a hurricane, storm surge, damaging winds, flood and/or power outage. If you don’t have one yet or it hasn’t been updated in awhile, designate your staff or team to create your Business Continuity Plan, communicate it with your employees, and ensure that your business operations can continue and everyone stays safe and informed in the event of a storm. Maintaining business continuity is important. For more information, check out FEMA’s Ready Business Hurricane Toolkit. This will take the guesswork out of what you need to do when disaster strikes. Don’t forget to share it with your staff, maintain email and print copies, and back up to the cloud.
8. Download Local & National Weather Alert Apps
Download the FEMA app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips. You can also sign up for local alerts on your phone. Visit Ready.gov (https://www.ready.gov/alerts) and find out about your local alerts and weather apps that are relevant for hazards that affect your area. Ensure that all of your staff members have all of the tools and resources to protect their families.
At Mitchell Adjusting International, we have successfully negotiated many commercial property damage and large loss claims due to the devastating effects of hurricanes. We know firsthand the devastation of major storm events. Being prepared is one of the best things you can do to protect your business. If disaster strikes, we review your policy, assess your damage, meet with your insurance company and adjusters, and handle all of the confusing paperwork and legalese to process your claim for a fair and balanced settlement. #HurricanePrep #HurricaneStrong #HurricaneSafety #ItOnlyTakesOne