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Is Your Business Ready for Hurricane Season?

Hurricane season begins this June, is your business ready? Businesses along the Atlantic and the Gulf coasts are most susceptible to hurricanes and need to have a plan in place for when hurricane season comes around.

This article will serve as a guide for those businesses who do operate along the Gulf and Atlantic coast to prepare their business for hurricane season to the best of their ability. By creating a plan in case of this natural disaster, you are keeping your employees and business protected from anything that comes your way. This is important because it will allow you and your business to not suffer from the detriments of a hurricane that you can prepare for prior to the storm.

  1. What is your company’s level of risk?

When it comes to hurricanes, many factors play into the amount of damage that can affect your business. The closer your physical property is to the coast, the more prepared you should be for possible property damage from a storm. With hurricanes comes flooding, high winds, downed power lines, and much more; so, it is important to understand how your business would be affected if these issues should arise–and plan accordingly.

An excellent tool to find your business property's risk of structural damage is to use hazard maps. The following are some examples of maps that can help you decide how compromised your business could be in the event of a hurricane: National Storm Surge Hazard Maps, ArcGIS NWS Storm Surge Hazard Maps, and Ready.gov's Hurricane Risk Assessment. While these maps are based on historical data, it is important to remember that they are not 100% accurate and that every storm is different.

  1. Create a disaster recovery plan (DRP) - especially for data and IT systems

Hurricanes nearly always interrupt phone service and internet connections. In the event of a hurricane, your IT systems could fail. It is important to consistently back up your computer's information to hard drives or internet folders so that if your computers are damaged, valuable information is not lost. Losing data is a serious issue and can have a large effect on how the business is able to recover from a hurricane, depending on what information is lost and if it can be recovered.

Having a DRP in place is essential for hurricane season. Considering moving information backups to cloud computing is a good idea as well because it does not require physical hard drive storage and is a reliable form of storage for sensitive information. Ready.gov has an IT disaster recovery plan guide that could be helpful to look at when creating your businesses DRP.

  1. Review all paperwork - insurance policies, contracts, etc.

Knowing your insurance company’s policies is crucial in the event of a natural disaster. The kind of coverage your business is entitled to in the case of a hurricane is very valuable information that shouldn't be looked over prior to hurricane season beginning.

Reviewing your business's customer and vendor contracts is also important. Understanding your obligations made to those customers and vendors is a responsibility of yours as a business owner. This will also ensure that your business will be able to pick up where it left off before the storm hit for a sense of normalcy when work goes back into session.

  1. Regularly cataloging your business assets

For insurances purposes, it is essential you are regularly cataloging your business assets. A complete, full log of your business assets is important to note and have on file so that you are allotted full compensation post hurricane. This comes of great use to you as a business owner if something is damaged due to the storm.

  1. Create a business continuity plan

While getting through the storm safely is important, how your business picks back up after the storm is important as well. A business continuity plan will also you to have instructions in place for how your business will run post hurricane.

Ready.gov has good guidelines to look at when creating your business continuity plan. It could also be helpful to look at the continuity plans of businesses similar to yours. What is important for your business may not be as important to another - understand what your company values and needs to function.

  1. Have a plan in place for communication!

Maintaining communication during a crisis is important to keep everyone on the same page. Natural disasters like hurricanes can cause several problems like cell phone towers interruptions, internet and landline systems to be down. Having a reliable form of communication, a part of your plan can relieve that communication barrier between your customers, employees and vendors.

A great way to have a solid form of communication solid during a hurricane is by using an answering service - like CallStar Answering Service. Customers, employees and vendors of your company will appreciate this form of solid communication for the following reasons: it is reliable, never closed, the call service will never lapse due to natural disasters, and if your company loses power, the call center can continue operations since they do not operate directly through your company's location–their connection is more secure. Using an answering service like CallStar will allow you to recover from hurricanes quicker as a business because that line of communication was never lost.

  1. Have an evacuation plan

Prioritizing your employee’s safety is #1 and having an Emergency Action Plan in place makes your employees a top priority. When making this plan for a hurricane the following list are things that are pertinent:

  • the conditions that require this plan to be used
  • actions that are expected for your employees to take when evacuating–with shutdown of operations included
  • evacuation routes specific to your building
  • include a designated meeting point for employees to be safe and counted to make sure no one's left behind
  • procedures in place to help those who need extra assistance when evacuating

Putting your employees through periodic drills and training will help prepare your staff for this kind of emergency. It is important that everyone in your facility knows where to go in case of a hurricane and what their emergency plan includes.

  1. Have emergency supplies readily accessible

In the possibility your staff is unable to evacuate your business at the time of a hurricane, it is important that your business is stocked with emergency supplies.

Your emergency supplies kit should include:

  • battery operated or hand-crank emergency radio
  • non-perishable food supplies (3 days’ worth)
  • blankets, pillows, cots, sleeping bags, foldable chairs
  • first aid kits
  • flashlights
  • tool kits
  • signal flares and whistles
  • ducts tape, plastic bags and tarps
  • fire extinguishers
  • a generator and a large supply of fuel

As hurricane season begins, it's important to protect your employees, assets and your company as a whole. Hurricane season comes with many trials and tribulations - a strong business with the right plan put in placed with recovery from possible hurricanes this season.

Interested in hiring an answering service as a reliable source of communication this hurricane season? CalllStar is an award-winning Tampa based phone answering system/ call center business that can fulfill all of your answering service needs! For more information on CallStar or our services, call the number (800)370-1131 (open 24 hours).

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