If you’re a business owner in a hurricane-prone area, you’ll need more than sandbags — you need a business hurricane plan. The six-month-long hurricane season traditionally running from June through November has sneakily soaked into May and December, giving more opportunities for your worst customer to visit.
Creating a business hurricane plan in addition to your own personal plan can seem daunting, especially if it hasn’t been on your radar like that tropical disturbance making googly eyes at you from across the Gulf.
In a perfect world, preparation begins at least a month before hurricane season. In reality, for most people, it starts when an approaching storm has put your location in the crosshairs — giving only a few days and Hail Marys to get ready.
The Plan – Work inside out
Get your house in order first and then contact each client with a plan tailored to their needs. It’s also nice to check in on their well-being. It’s a stressful time. Additionally, communicating your safety during and after the event is just as important to plan for all parties. Not knowing if someone is safe can be just as stressful.
Regardless of where you find yourself on the timeline, it’s important to create/review/update your business hurricane plan as soon as possible. Now, hunker down for a few minutes — below is a quick preliminary checklist HEROfarm created and some additional resources to help prepare ourselves, and your business, for approaching storms.
Business Hurricane Plan Checklist
❏ Meet with your insurance provider to review current coverage for things like physical losses, flood coverage, and business interruption
❏ Determine where will each employee will go when evacuating and find out at least one emergency contact who will be staying with each employee
❏ Create an offline document of those evacuation addresses, landline numbers, cell phone numbers plus secondary cell phone numbers, and client numbers
❏ Designate one person to grab all company external hard drives, critical files, valuables, etc.
❏ Designate one person to be the lead client liaison who emails and calls all clients with how they can get in touch with you and where you’ll be
❏ Designate one person to print out the latest jobs schedule and distribute it to employees
❏ Designate one person to compile all essential contractors’ information and vendor numbers along with out-of-state alternates who can be called upon as needed
❏ Set up a call-in number while scheduling routine days and times for check-in “meetings”
❏ Set email away message to include all vital contact information
❏ Backup files at least once a week on an external hard drive and prepare to bring your own with you
❏ Determine a post-storm location where you can work if the main office is inaccessible for an extended time
❏ Conduct a room-by-room walkthrough of the office to determine what needs to be secured and removed
❏ Keep an updated inventory of all equipment, materials, and/or products both in and outside of your office. If possible, do a video recording during your walkthrough for insurance and self-check purposes
❏ Place heavy or breakable objects on low shelves
❏ Move workstations away from large windows, if possible
❏ Elevate equipment off the floor to avoid electrical hazards in the event of flooding
❏ Check the refrigerator for anything that could spoil quickly if power is lost and either finish it or throw it away
❏ Have vital contact information for government, insurance, non-profit, and legal entities on hand
❏ Create a list of local charities experienced with post-storm community recovery you can contact for assistance or you can assist
❏ Ensure all essential digital documents are downloaded to employee electronic devices, available for offline viewing, and/or printed out in the event power outages become an issue
❏ Hold an executive-level/key stakeholders status meeting to go over all aspects of the plan as well as host a discussion of Q&A
❏ Hold a company-wide status meeting to go over all aspects of the plan as well as host a Q&A discussion
❏ If your office will double as a safe space for shelter, be sure to load up on the essential supplies one might need and get a clear idea of how many people can or should be in the facility
Additional Personal and Business Hurricane Plan Resources
- Hurricane Preparedness and Response (OSHA)
- Ready Business Hurricane Toolkit (ready.gov)
- Preparing for a Storm (NOLA Ready)
- Hurricane Preparation for Businesses (JEDCO)
- Hurricane Preparedness for Business: A Small Business Owner’s Guide (Employers Insurance)
- Hurricane Preparedness (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
- Planning for Emergencies (NOLA Ready)
- What to Do Before the Tropical Storm or Hurricane (National Weather Service)
- Preparing for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm (CDC)
- Hurricane Safety (Red Cross)