The predictions are in – don’t wait to find out if they’re on target
June 1st officially kicked off the start of the 2016 hurricane season and the predictions are in – if you haven’t already prepped your office and stocked up on the necessary supplies, the time to do so is now. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), there’s a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms, and between 4 to 8 of them could become hurricanes. Whether these projections are accurate or not, being prepared remains the top way to protect your business from losses. Here’s a guide to help you get ready:
1. Create a crisis communication plan
Some of the first things to go during a major storm (after electricity) are landlines and cell phone reception. It’s critical that you are able to reach out to employees and/or their families if a hurricane hits, so establishing a communication plan is essential. Assign communication tasks to certain people on your team and specify the method they will use to notify everyone. If you have a large team, you may want to consider creating a page on your website (or on your company Facebook page) that you can update with the latest information. Also, it’s important to make a hard copy of your plan and keep it in the office where everyone can access it. Other suggestions include:
• Determine who will call or text team members if a hurricane is expected
• Make an instruction sheet that details how to communicate if landlines are out and cell reception is poor after the storm hits
• List phone numbers, emails (personal, in case your business network goes down), and addresses of all personnel
• List contact information of all emergency management offices in the area, including shelters
2. Back up all your data
If you’re like most small businesses, you have a system in place to back up data on a regular basis. But in the event of a storm, you may need to adjust your schedule to conduct backups earlier. It’s also a good idea to test your recovery process or speak to your service provider to ensure that all is functioning properly and your backups are being performed as expected.
3. Keep your team safe
The only good thing about hurricanes is that you usually know in advance when they’re going to hit and you can prepare yourself, your business, and your family. In the event that a storm strikes, it’s likely your company will be closed and everyone on your team will be home with their families to hunker down. But as the owner, it’s a good idea to keep a set of supplies on hand at the office just in case. A disaster kit should include:
• Enough drinking water for your entire team for at least 72 hours
• Non-perishable food
• A battery-operated radio
• First-aid supplies
• A can opener
• Extra batteries
4. Prep your office space
Once a hurricane warning is issued (36 hours before it’s expected to hit), it’s highly likely that a storm is headed your way. If you haven’t already, you should assess your office space and your entire company property to minimize any damages that could result from high winds, flying debris, heavy rain, and power surges.
Go through your office and cover any computer terminals or other sensitive equipment with plastic and take anything that’s valuable off the floor. Board up or otherwise cover windows, if possible. Make sure you unplug any cables and wires that are connected to terminals to prevent damage from a surge, and put anything small that’s of value into your company safe, if you have one. Think ahead about possible flooding in your building and your parking lot and take all necessary precautions.
5. Choose an alternate working location
If a storm does hit and your company property is badly damaged, you will want to have an alternate location to conduct business. Think ahead about where you and your employees could work. If you have an online business, you may be able to have everyone work from their homes or perhaps a local library. Remember that if you do expect your team to work from home, they’ll need to have access to your network, so be sure to arm them with all they need.
6. Talk to us
Before a hurricane hits, beyond ensuring the safety and well-being of your team and your family, you’ll want to make sure that your commercial insurance policies are adequate and up to date. Having the appropriate coverage could mean the difference between easily repairing and replacing damaged property and having to foot the bill out of your own pocket.
Avante offers a full array of business insurance policies and we can guide you on exactly what you need to ensure you’re protected. Give us a call today at 305-648-7070 or fill out our online form to get in touch.