Our uninvited guests Marco and Laura are quickly approaching. What steps should you be taking to prepare your business now, especially in the midst of the Covid pandemic? No amount of hand sanitizer can stop a hurricane-as we all know. While a business can’t control where a storm hits or how damaging it will be, early planning is essential to minimizing the impact. The following simple guide is designed to help every business protect their organization and people if a hurricane makes landfall in their area.
Prioritize what matters most
The best place to start: look closely at what keeps your business up and running. Protect your people! A company is only as strong as the people it employs. And just as you look to your workforce to handle specific business functions, they look to you for leadership and guidance.
Since we are already mostly working from home, this might actually be easier than ever before. But, loss of electricity, internet solutions, and evacuating team members could be chaotic to keep your business running. You might need to reverse your offers to have them come into the office for safety and or business continuum.
Inventory Your Assets
Networks, data, equipment, technology, supplies, products, and facilities are just a few of the assets at risk during a hurricane. Threats include not only flooding and high winds, but gas shortages and power outages. Take pictures of assets and connect with your insurance carrier to report damages.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends a Continuity Resource Toolkit, which can help businesses “prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and recover rapidly from operational disruptions.”
• Identify the following assets now to prevent stress and headaches later:
• Where are your assets located?
• What kind of physical protection is available for each asset?
• Which assets are critical to running the business?
• Are these assets owned or insured?
• What assets are leased and what is your responsibility if they are damaged?
Fortify Your Facility
We often prepare for wind damage but the biggest threat is typically flooding. A hurricane can easily weaken to a slow-moving tropical storm over a heavily populated area and cause catastrophic flooding. (Thanks for that lesson Harvey!)
Questions to ask: What is the evacuation plan for each facility? For example entrances/exits; stairs, elevators and escalators; parking lots; and access to the closest hurricane evacuation route. Can we close our facility with at least 2 hours to spare to get our people home and locations safe? What types of materials are in place necessary to get a facility up and running again?
Build your Emergency Plan
In the panic of an approaching storm, it’s human nature to lose focus. Having an explicit emergency plan in place is crucial to minimizing the confusion surrounding a hurricane.
Your plan should be flexible to account for inevitable changes in people, assets, and locations.
Back-Up Your Data
It might feel like a no-brainer, but it’s an easily overlooked practice. Ensure your data is backed up offsite to safeguard against on-premises damage (flooding or fires can destroy on-site servers).
Have remote employees back up their laptops on external drives and use cloud storage.
Set Up Cloud Systems
Disaster recovery is why cloud-based systems are the preferred choice for IT professionals. If you have to work from a different location, you want to be certain you can access key business systems and data from mobile devices. This may include payroll, CRM, and HR systems.
Build a checklist of tasks to perform throughout the entire duration of a hurricane. Store the list on a cloud application for easy access, but also physically post it where your people can easily reference it if there’s a power outage. Be sure to communicate this list to key stakeholders if you’ll be away or unavailable.
Access to Contracts
Review and be able to quickly access your insurance coverage, lease agreements and other contracts with vendors, insurance providers, and landlords. There should be specific callouts for weather-related events, damages, and complete loss. Check the Force majeure events typically enumerated in contracts (acts of God, such as severe acts of nature or weather events including floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, or explosions). Such clauses have been used with the Pandemic and could further apply in the case of hurricane damage.
Create Response Teams
When it comes to protecting your people, assets, and locations—it takes a village.
Once you have your plan in place, it’s time to delegate and practice. Don’t forget: an emergency plan is only as good as the people following it. Everyone must have a thorough understanding of what to do in any given scenario if it’s going to work.
Define Clear Roles and Responsibilities
A hurricane preparedness plan will contain several moving parts involving multiple people. Be sure to designate roles to employees who are up to the challenge. Communicate specific responsibilities with each stakeholder and make sure they have the resources and technology they need. Let everyone know who is on each team and who they can look to for specific information.
You have to do more than simply tell people their responsibilities—you must also thoroughly train them. Get the team together to review the protocol and answer any questions they may have. As the company evolves, so too should the plan. Be sure to modify it with every new location, expansion, or change to a facility.
Stay Safe and take care of each other.
Download our guide to get a quick overview of hurricane preparedness:
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