Help protect your business against hurricanes
Provided by: Hortica, a brand of the Sentry Insurance Group, www.hortica.com
Though hurricanes are usually seasonal in nature—97 percent of tropical activity occurs from Jun. 1 to Nov. 30—they can have a devastating impact for years.
That’s why it’s important to plan ahead for such an event, even if you’re not in an area that would receive a direct hit from a hurricane. Flooding is one of the main concerns when it comes to hurricanes, and that can happen far from the storm’s landfall.
At Hortica, we’ve come up with some suggestions to help you limit the damage before, during, and after a hurricane.
Before a hurricane
You might think you’re at the mercy of a hurricane. However, there are steps you can take to minimize damage, including:
- Survey your property: Look for where your building and land are most vulnerable to high winds and rising water.
- Plan ahead: Create a response plan to deal with the areas that’ll be most affected by a storm. Develop emergency checklists, such as securing structures and covering doors and windows. Understand your community’s evacuation plans if you must leave the area. Prepare a communication plan that will keep your employees and customers updated after the storm.
- Prepare your staff: Create an emergency response team and designate an emergency coordinator.
- Be ready to move: Have a safe place at a higher elevation where you can take critical files and paperwork. Be sure to include room for valuable building equipment, supplies, and vehicles.
- Practice your plan: Review your hurricane response plan and look for areas that might need revising. If there’s time before a storm hits, walk through the procedures to make sure everything and everyone is ready.
If a hurricane is forecast, you want the most up-to-date information. Weather radios with a battery backup can keep you informed. It’s also important to understand the difference between a watch and a warning:
- Hurricane watch: A hurricane is possible within the next 24–36 hours.
- Hurricane warning: Winds already exceed 74 mph. High water and rough seas are expected within the next 24 hours.
If a hurricane strikes and power is lost, protect your electrical equipment by unplugging it. That’ll avoid the risk of a surge when power returns. Also, be prepared to evacuate if conditions or emergency responders require it.
After a hurricane
Once a hurricane passes, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Check on staff: Account for all employees and see if anyone is hurt. If so, seek medical help immediately.
- Look out for hazards: Be aware of any downed power lines, gas leaks, plugged drains, and downed trees and branches.
- Record the damage: Check your buildings and property for damage. Document what you find in writing and take photos. Contact your insurance agent.
- Start salvage and repairs: If it’s safe to do so, perform any temporary repairs to protect your building, equipment, and supplies.
- Get the word out: Through your communication plan, let employees and customers know the status of your operation, what’s being done to recover, and how you’re meeting operational needs.