Hurricanes are a force of nature like no other. They can be hundreds of miles wide, packing winds of 150 mph or higher. A severe hurricane can literally wipe the landscape clean. With hurricane season in Texas, preparation before the storm and action after it passes makes all the difference.
Get a Plan Together Before the Storm Arrives
How will you protect your business assets if a hurricane passes through your area? That is the question you need to answer when preparing your business’ hurricane plan.
Protect the physical property
- Invest in and be prepared to install storm shutters or plywood to protect the windows and doors.
- Have the roof checked to make sure it can withstand strong winds. If it needs replaced or repaired, have that work done before storm season arrives.
- Remove tree branches that hang too close to the building. Consider removing trees that cause a constant overhang.
- Identify low lying areas of the property and be prepared to sandbag those areas to prevent flooding.
- Be prepared to evacuate irreplaceable or valuable items.
- Turn off all utilities before the storm hits. This will help prevent fires and water pipe bursts.
Protect your documents and data
Your business might survive a physical displacement. But, it will not survive if you lose your customer lists and insurance information.
- Create and maintain a list of important contacts. This includes your insurance company, employees, financial advisers, attorneys, suppliers, and shippers. Don’t forget contact numbers for local authorities and neighboring businesses. You need to keep a copy of this list off-site.
- Back up important documents to electronic form and store that information at a place outside the storm zone.
- Seal documents that will remain in the building in waterproof containers. Try to place them above potential flood levels.
Determine if anyone would need to remain onsite during a hurricane
This is something that you will need to consider very carefully. In almost all circumstances, if a hurricane is headed directly at you, you need to get out of the way. However, if you decide someone needs to be onsite, you need to prepare for this.
- Create an emergency kit (flashlights, batteries, etc.)
- Stock enough non-perishable food and water for each person to survive for three days.
- Get a battery-operated radio or television.
- Have a cot and bedding for each person.
- Have a first aid kit, a basic tool kit, and emergency cash on hand.
Assign responsibilities and prepare employees
Your employees need to know what they should do when a hurricane comes through.
- Identify what help you will need from employees. You may need help securing the premises or getting electronic back-ups done. Remember that the employees will want to secure their homes, also.
- Assign responsibilities. Once you know what needs to be done, identify the employee who will do each thing. Let each person know what is expected.
- Have a test run. Every six months to a year, do a dry run of your emergency plans. It will keep everyone up to date on the plans and help you identify if there are any missing parts to the plan.
Review your plans at least once a year
Things change all the time. Your emergency plans for a hurricane need to keep up with those changes.
After the Storm
Your planning is in place. A hurricane comes through. Now, what do you do?
- Assess the damage. You need to know how big of an impact your business has sustained. You may find your business is largely undamaged. Or that you have a major problem and it will take months to get back up and running.
- Contact a public adjuster or your insurance company immediately. You will want to get an adjuster out immediately. The faster they get out, the faster your recovery starts.
- Take pictures of any damage done. Before you move a box or cover the roof, take photos. This is to document things for the insurance company.
- Secure the premises. If you have a hole in the roof or a window out, make temporary repairs. Of course if the entire roof is gone, that is something you cannot do.
- Communicate with shippers, suppliers, and customers you do business with. Let them know the situation and keep them up to date. You may need to relocate and have shipments rerouted.
- If needed, get a secondary location up and running quickly. Being able to get your business running again will keep your customers happy and keep your company viable, even in the aftermath of the storm.
Next time a hurricane comes through, your business will be ready. You and your employees will be ready for what happens during the storm as well as its aftermath. It will make a stressful situation a bit easier to manage.
Has your business suffered excessive wind or water damage? Insurance companies are notorious for trying to nickel and dime business owners after storms. To receive the full amount that you deserve, you need representation. Contact the public adjusters at Commercial Claim Pro to get the money you need to get back to business. Call today at (877) 877-6612.
Photo Coast Guard News | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0