6 hurricane preparation tips
May 16, 2020
On the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans on the East Coast and along the Gulf of Mexico are facing an active hurricane season that’s “above normal,” according to forecasters. In fact, experts at The Weather Channel predict a total of 18 named storms (nine of them hurricanes) for the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season. That’s 50% higher than the seasonal average of 12 named storms (with six hurricanes). Disclosure 1
If these predictions prove true, 2020 will be the fifth consecutive year of above-average activity during hurricane season. In 2019, for example, hurricane season had 18 named storms and 20 tropical cyclones, causing over $11 billion in damages. Disclosure 2
So how do you prepare your business to weather the potential damages hurricanes can cause? The good news is that a relatively small investment of time and money now may prevent severe damage and disruption to your business down the road. Here’s a checklist to get you on the right track.
1. Know your building’s vulnerability to flooding or severe wind damage.
- Map the flood risk to your business using this tool from FEMA.(opens in a new tab)
- Know the elevation of your building and have it inspected by a licensed professional to make sure the roof and other building connections comply with the wind loading requirements for your area.
- If your building has large expanses of glass, consider using impact-resistant glass or impact-resistant film products to protect the glass areas.
2. Take these precautions if a potential hurricane is in the forecast.
- Cover non-impact resistant windows with shutters or plywood.
- Cover and move your equipment and furniture to a secure area, if possible.
- Protect all data by making backup files and storing the duplicates away from the area that could be affected by the storm.
- Make provisions for alternate communications and power, especially if your business cannot shut down during the course of the emergency.
- Be prepared to have limited access to normal banking services in a hurricane’s aftermath.
- Plan on losing water, sewer, electrical and phone services following a hurricane.
- Keep emergency supplies on hand, including a first aid kit.
- Prepare a list of vendors and telephone numbers critical to your daily operations, and store them somewhere you can safely access.
3. Consider your staff.
- To aid in quick and effective communication, prepare a list of all employees, including phone numbers, addresses and any location where they may go in the event of an evacuation.
- Remember that most employees will need time following a hurricane to take care of their families’ needs.
- If your business must continue to operate during a storm, provide good shelter.
- If you need to get back to work quickly after a storm and need critical employees to get the business up and running, plan on helping them meet their personal and family needs.
4. Keep your customers and suppliers informed.
- If you plan to shut down your business during a hurricane, make sure your customers and suppliers know what’s happening.
- If possible, arrange for telephone, fax, and other communications to be rerouted to you elsewhere if your lines go out.
5. Proceed with caution in the storm’s aftermath.
- Be cautious about entering your business, even if it appears undamaged. Check power lines, gas service and the building’s overall structure.
- Try to avoid additional damage by boarding up any broken windows or doors to prevent further rain damage and looting.
- If any electrical equipment gets wet, have it checked by an electrician before turning on the power.
- Keep careful track of all losses and damage-related expenditures.
- Obtain independent estimates of damage.
- Document all losses with photos or videos.
- Don’t wait for an adjuster to arrive before making emergency repairs.
6. Review your insurance coverage.
- Prepare a list of insurance carriers, policy numbers and contact information for your agent and their claims office.
- Store copies of your insurance policies in a safe place.
- Inventory, document and photograph your business equipment, supplies and the workplace.
- Have your business appraised at least every five years.
- Consider purchasing business interruption insurance and adding coverage to protect against lost revenues.
- Also consider adding a commercial flood insurance policy. Remember, standard commercial property insurance typically doesn’t cover flood damage that often follows hurricanes.
Science News, “Forecasters predict a very active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season,” published April 16, 2020; accessed April 24, 2020, https://www.sciencenews.org/article/weather-forecasters-predict-very-active-2020-atlantic-hurricane-season(opens in a new tab)
Fortune, “Hurricane season could be a bad one,” published April 3, 2020; accessed April 24, 2020; https://fortune.com/2020/04/03/2020-hurricane-season-prediction/(opens in a new tab)
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