You’ve heard of different ways to prepare for a hurricane in your home, but have you thought about how to prepare your business or agency for hurricanes? Being a small business in Florida, Federal Contracts Corp understands the difficulties associated with preparing for natural disasters with limited resources and funds. With hurricane season quickly approaching, we felt it appropriate to remind businesses and government agencies, both large and small, to prepare for hurricane season. The National Hurricane Survival Initiative compiled a list of things to do to prepare for a hurricane. We’ve taken some of their suggestions as well as complied some of our suggestions to create a simple 7-step hurricane preparation plan.
Step 1: Prepare, Plan, and Practice
Don’t just plan an evacuation but plan an overall strategy that extends to all parts of the business. The steps in this plan cannot be accomplished with an impeding hurricane on the way, so this step needs to be accomplished before a hurricane sighting.
Step 2: Have an Alternative Electric Supply
Whether you decide to wait the hurricane out or evacuate, chances are, you will need to have some form of alternative power in the form of batteries and generators. This will save you the headache of not having electricity during the hurricane or after you return from evacuation.
After the effects of Hurricane Maria in September of 2017, the residents of Puerto Rico were left without electricity, among other essentials like shelter, water and food. The local government of the areas devastated needed help with the restoration of power. Working with GSA, within 48 hours of the call for help, we had a CAT C27 Generator along with multiple portable generators and power cable packages waiting at the Port of Jacksonville ready to be shipped off to Puerto Rico.
Step 3: Protect Your Property (Both Physical and Electronic)
For your physical property: have a backup source of water and gasoline powered pumps ready in case the business site loses water during the hurricane. If possible, turn off as many utilities before the hurricane hits, regardless of whether you decided to evacuate the area or not. Board up the windows with shutters or plywood and protect anything that is vulnerable or valuable from flying debris. This step is especially important if you decide to stay on site during the hurricane.
It may also be beneficial to have your roof checked to make sure that it can withstand the wind and debris of the hurricane. Put sandbags in any area that can flood including doors and anchor anything large (like shelves and filing cabinets) to the wall.
For your electronic property: make sure you back up all data and keep the backups in safe, dry locations. If the hurricane is strong enough to destroy all forms of electronic products (like computers, tablets, cell phones, hard drives, etc.) you run the risk of losing all your information and data. Obviously, this could be detrimental to the business if this information cannot be recovered. Get your electronics to a high and dry location in case of flooding. It is good practice to keep any electronics about 6 inches off the floor all year round to protect from the possibility of non-hurricane flooding.
Step 4: Establish On-Site Support
If continuing operations during the hurricane is essential to your business, it may be beneficial to only have a few select personnel stay on-site during the hurricane. This step includes having all essentials for these employees including food, water (1 gallon per person, per day), sleeping facilities (like cots or sleeping bags), bathing facilities and amenities, and spare clothes. Some employers may also want to provide areas for the families of the employees, and/or transportation. Be flexible with this step to give the best support to your employees that you can. The better you plan for this step, the safer everyone will be when the hurricane hits.
Going along with this step, it may also be beneficial to have a plan for employees to work remotely, as well as a secondary evacuation location ready for these essential employees. In case the hurricane proves to be stronger than anticipated, you need to keep these employees safe, which may mean needing to move them to a safer location, even if it means halting business operations. Have this evacuation location and plan prepped and ready to go before the hurricane hits.
Step 5: Secure a Recovery Services Provider
This step not only includes electronic recovery of phones and communications, but also the physical recovery of the business site.
For restoration of communications: if you are a business or agency with multiple locations, you may want to consider directing your communications to a location that will be less affected by the hurricane. This will give you to restore phones and communications to the area hit by the hurricane.
For physical building restorations: it may be beneficial to have a cleanup and disaster recovery company set up and ready to go. Creating relationships with these companies beforehand can save you the headache and chaos after the hurricane.
For government agencies, Federal Contracts Corp can respond within 24 hours with all types of equipment to help with the restoration process. We not only rent out heavy equipment, but also portable bathroom facilities and other types of disaster recovery necessities.
40% of small businesses that close due to hurricane damage do not reopen after recovery. This is why it is so crucial to plan for the disaster before the disaster starts.
In some cases, like Hurricane Michael in October of 2018, it can take months to rebuild buildings. In March of 2019, 6 months after Hurricane Michael ripped through Panama City, a Grove Crane was seen repositioning a steeple that was blown off a church.
Step 6: Declare Early
Some businesses and agencies are reluctant to declare action to a hurricane because of the associated costs with declaring action and using the disaster plans in place. The plans are in place to be used in case of an emergency, not just for peace of mind; so, use the plan. It is important to the safety of your employees and the business that you do not wait to act and declare an emergency. It is better and safer to act on an emergency when not needed than to not act on an emergency when it is truly needed.
Step 7: Have a Hurricane Preparedness Inventory
If you should decide to stay on the property during a hurricane, be sure that you have these essential items in addition to the items listed in Step 4:
All in all, remember to Prepare, Plan and Practice. No one has ever wished they had planned and prepared less when it comes to natural disasters. All of us at Federal Contracts Corp hope that you stay safe this hurricane season.
Information Retrieved From:
National Hurricane Survival Initiative. (n.d.). Business Checklist. Retrieved June 5, 2019, from https://hurricanesafety.org/prepare/prepare-your-business/