Hurricane season arrived on June 1, but the busiest period is fast approaching – typically mid-August to mid-September generates the most hurricanes in the United States. Home homeowners are already pricing generators, restocking hurricane supplies and getting ready for Mother Nature’s annual visits.
But what about businesses? What should they do to prepare for hurricane season – or for any disaster that could strike and potentially upend the business?
Peter J. Strauss, a captive insurance manager and author of the book The Business Owner’s Definitive Guide to Captive Insurance Companies (www.peterjstrauss.com), says the time is now for businesses to prepare.
“A remarkable number of business owners will spend a lot of time preparing their homes, but very little time preparing their businesses,” Strauss says. “Once a storm is on the radar, there is barely time to prepare your home – let alone your business.”
Experts from Colorado State University — regarded as the nation’s top seasonal hurricane forecasters — recently predicted 2018 will have seven hurricanes among 14 named tropical storms. Both numbers are above the average of six and 12, respectively.
Strauss says some preparations a business needs to take include:
Survey its staff members to determine what their needs will be during a storm and what they will need in order to return to work once the storm passes. The staff is the company’s biggest resource, so this should be a priority.
Start stockpiling water now if you have some extra space in your business. In an emergency, the first thing most retail stores run out of is bottled water. Also stockpile canned goods and extra food items that can remain fresh for your employees.
Take stock of all your software, hardware and data and arrange for duplication and off-site storage if necessary.
Purchase a generator and make other precautions for the inevitable disruption of power that will happen during the storm. Come up with an alternate plan of how you will be able to continue to service customers if there is a prolonged outage of power or if there is structural damage to your place of business.
Call your insurance agent and review your policy to make sure you have all the coverage you need. Also, videotape and photograph everything in your business and store for insurance purposes.
Strauss stressed that procrastination is not your friend when it comes to hurricanes. “Once a storm is approaching, everything moves twice as fast as you think it will. Generators, water and plywood will go fast,” he says. “Gas lines will get longer sooner. You can save yourself a lot of headache and worry by being prepared.”