The 2020 hurricane season begins on June 1st. Have you developed a hurricane preparedness plan to protect your business and staff in the event of an impending storm?
Hurricane season lasts approximately six months each year with the official start date of June 1st through November 30th. For 2020, weather experts anticipate an active hurricane season with the likelihood of 14-18 named tropical storms. Seven to nine of those storms are forecast to strengthen into hurricanes with two to three storms developing into major hurricanes(category 3 or above) capable of catastrophic damage. This 2020 season is considered an above-normal season for tropical disturbances.
As a business located in an area susceptible to hurricane impacts, it is critical to not only create a hurricane preparedness plan but to do so as early as possible to ensure the proper protection of your business assets and your employees. The time to begin business continuity preparations for a possible hurricane is now, well before the season gets underway and before any chaos erupts due to a looming storm off your coast.
Consider this step-by-step guide when creating a hurricane plan for your business:
EVALUATE & PRIORITIZE YOUR BUSINESS ASSETS
When it comes to protecting your business under threat of an approaching storm, you must identify the critical elements that allow your business to run successfully even in the potential aftermath of a storm. In most cases, these elements will consist of your staff, your assets, and your physical location.
PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE FIRST
It goes without saying that your most valuable business asset is your workforce, and they should be at the top of your priority list when creating your hurricane preparedness plan. When developing your procedures for before and after a storm hits you must consider the needs of your employees and ensure they are also given ample time to make their own preparations to protect themselves and their family.
Some considerations to make to protect your staff and plan for the aftermath of the storm include:
- Where employees will be weathering the storm and if they will be evacuating
- The status of any employees that may be traveling for your company on business matters
- The location and capabilities of any remote workforce you already have in place
- Any mass notification systems you have in place to update your workforce on the status of your business
PROTECT & INVENTORY YOUR ASSETS
It is crucial to take inventory of all of your business assets at risk as part of your hurricane preparedness plan and ensure this documentation is secure and easily accessible following a storm. Include all equipment related to your business, networking, supplies, product inventory, furnishings, etc. Make certain this list is kept current and updated each year before hurricane season begins and keep this alongside all insurance policy documentation.
As part of your inventory, make sure to also identify the assets which you will need in the immediate aftermath of the storm to continue to operate your business and how these assets will be protected.
Consider reviewing the Continuity Resource Toolkit provided by FEMA with tools and resources available to your business when preparing for emergency operation scenarios.
PROTECT YOUR LOCATION
Hurricanes produce a number of threats to buildings including wind damage, flooding, and prolonged power outages. Evaluate your location and take note of any vulnerabilities and what if anything can be done to protect your company site. Consider any immediate hurricane preparations that will be taken once a storm is approaching and who will carry out these preparations such as shuttering, boarding up, sandbags, etc.
how to DEVELOP an EMERGENCY BUSINESS PLAN
Do not wait until a storm is approaching to decide what steps must be taken to protect your business data. In the midst of chaos, nerves, and compliance with emergency orders by the government it can be easy to overlook critical steps leaving your business vulnerable and unprepared.
Develop an emergency business continuity plan before hurricane season begins and make sure to include procedures that address the most critical information and needs of your business such as:
- Data backup procedures with offsite capabilities to protect your business information
- Availability of a cloud-based system to access critical business data from any location
- Two-way Communications System allowing you and your staff to remain connected before, during, and after a storm even in the face of power outages and downed phone lines.
- Create lists delineating procedures to take in the event of a storm that is easily accessible to your staff in order to prepare quickly and efficiently.
DELINEATE EMERGENCY ROLES
In order to successfully carry out your hurricane preparedness plan, it is essential that your workforce is informed of not only the procedures but the delegation of those duties. Do not assume the tasks will just get done; take the time to create an emergency response team and delegate duties and responsibilities to specific team members and back up team members in the event of a storm.
Clearly define each team member's role and responsibilities guiding them through the hurricane preparedness plan steps including before the storm and after the storm has passed.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Once each emergency team member's roles and responsibilities have been delineated you must make certain each individual not only understands their role but also has the tools and capabilities to carry them out. The best way to be sure your team is ready to implement your hurricane preparedness plan is to train your team and practice these tasks through hurricane preparation drills. This will allow you to identify and correct any possible issues and clarify any misunderstood directives before an actual storm scenario is underway.
The threat of a hurricane can be stressful and overwhelming especially as a business owner. Take the time to create an effective and well-thought-out plan to protect your staff, assets, and business location. Preparation and practice will give your business an advantage and allow you to get back to work as quickly as possible in the aftermath of a storm.
Contact us at WheelHouse IT to discuss technology solutions that can help you protect your company in the event of an impending storm.