The Atlantic hurricane season officially started on June 1, and anyone living in areas prone to hurricanes who hasn't already prepared for it should get ready now. According to an article in SHRM: Society For Human Resource Management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a below-normal number of storms this season, but that doesn't mean preparations can be delayed for keeping families, businesses, and property safe. If a business is in an area that never gets hurricanes, it's still a good idea to plan ahead for a tornado, flood, fire, or any other potential disaster.
Keep in mind that it just takes one major disaster to change an uneventful business year into one that will be remembered for decades. Take, for example, Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It was the only one to make landfall in the U.S., yet it was a monstrous Category 5 hurricane that caused $26.5 billion in damages and took the lives of 26 people.
For businesses, making a plan for a disaster and preparing for its eventuality are crucial. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses remain closed following a disaster and 25% fail after just one year.
Don't despair, there are some simple and inexpensive steps to take that will ensure any business is ready to weather the storm.
- Risk assessment: Based on the location of a business and its immediate environment, what are the potential threats?
- Communications plan: Realize that email and cell phone service may not be available, so a business owner will need to come up with a way beforehand to communicate with his or her employees and customers.
- Power: Whether it's a backup generator or just having batteries around, a business relies on electricity.
- Data: Consider backing up to "the cloud" or somewhere offsite. If the backup is located at the place of business, and that business is destroyed by a disaster, then the data will still be accessible.
- Practice: Annual drills and familiarization make all the difference when there is a crisis. Plus, any flaws or deficiencies will become apparent during the trial run and can be easily resolved.
- Preparation outside the office: Just because a business is prepared doesn't mean that its employees are. A business doesn't run itself, so make sure that employees also have plans in place so that they can assist the business if possible after a disaster.
For more information on how to prepare for a hurricane, visit NOAA's National Hurricane Center website or the Agility Recovery and U.S. Small Business Administration comprehensive hurricane preparedness checklist.