While hurricane season runs from June through November, truth be told, hurricane preparation for businesses should take place year-round.
As tempting as it may be to test the winds of fate, the odds may not be in your favor. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), during an average hurricane season, 12 named storms (winds of 39 mph or more) take place, of which a half-dozen become hurricanes, and, of those, three become major ones. Just in 2017, three of the costliest hurricanes occurred (Harvey, costing $125 billion, Maria at $90 billion, and Irma, at $50 billion).
You do, after all, want to continue to operate should a storm hit. But how?
That’s where hurricane preparation for businesses comes in. If you put a plan in place the last time the weather got rough, revisit it — even if you’re feeling confident. Your organization may have grown or shifted direction; vital people in the command chain may have left the company, switched offices or simply changed their cell phone number. Will you be able to reach them? And what will you do if electricity is out, cell phone towers are down and three feet of water covers the first floor of your business?
Don’t wait until hours before the storm hits to begin taking hurricane preparation for businesses seriously. Part of emergency preparedness is figuring out exactly who will do what during a hurricane or other disaster. Develop an emergency response plan and rehearse it. Who will be responsible for making sure that computer equipment is moved to safer ground? Who is in charge of making sure that windows are boarded up? Also, put together a business continuity plan to address how your specific organization will be able to continue operating after the storm ends.
Be certain to back up data and develop a disaster recovery plan. Yes, we should all know where our work information is at all times, how it is obtained, stored, retrieved and backed up. In reality, that’s a large responsibility and one likely not to be handled by just one person. Determine whether any procedures will need to change in light of an impending hurricane. Check cloud-based services, too, to determine what will happen if they are in the storm’s path. Don’t overlook third parties that may be involved with your organization and the precautions they are taking with your data. How will information be retrieved after the storm is over?
Hurricane preparation for businesses should also include an insurance review. Make sure you are properly covered and understand and are willing to accept the risk of loss associated with any insurance options you choose. Be certain to learn and understand the differences between property insurance, hurricane insurance and flood insurance.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 25% of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster. Don’t be one of them.