In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated the east coast with heavy winds and storm surges. In June 2012, a violent outbreak of thunderstorms left a 700-mile trail of devastation across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic. A freak blizzard in October 2011 knocked out power for millions of New Englanders for weeks. And more recently, the torrential rains and devastating floods in Colorado have caused damage across nearly 2,000 square miles.
There’s no doubt that Mother Nature is capable of wreaking havoc. Leaving your business scrambling without a plan when foul weather strikes is a costly mistake. In fact, according to the SBA’s Disaster Planning resources, your business has a 25 percent chance of never reopening after closing due to a disaster.
Fortunately, there are two powerful weapons that can improve your odds: A good plan and good business insurance. Follow the 8-step plan below to put these tools into action:
- Know your local weather trends. Be familiar with the types of weather events your business could be vulnerable to. Visit ready.gov/today for information on natural hazards in your area.
- Minimize the impact of severe weather on your property. Think about the emergencies you could face due to extreme weather such as a power outage, structural damage, building collapse, or chemical release. Check outdoor items such as signage, A/C and heating units on the roof, security cameras and satellite dishes to see what might need to be secured or moved. Make sure you have a good gutter system to route water away from your building. Use surge protectors to protect office equipment, computers and cash registers from damage due to lightning strikes.
- Identify critical assets and operations. Makes a list of your essential internal and external products, services, and facilities. Don’t forget utilities and services such as electricity, water, gas, and transportation.
- Protect vital records and data. Keep your most important documents in a safe that’s resistant to fire, heat, burglary tools, and torches. Back up data and software daily and store backups in a location separate from your primary facility.
- Have an emergency response plan. Establish procedures for communicating with your employees during an emergency, shutting down operations, fighting fires, protecting vital records and evacuating the premises.
- Have a business continuity plan. Document how you'll restore operations once an event has passed.
- Assemble an emergency kit and list of contact numbers. Include essential items such as first aid supplies, flashlights, battery powered radio, extra batteries, tool kit, nonperishable food, and bottled water. Make sure these items and all emergency contact numbers are easily accessible.
- Check your business insurance. Carefully review your business insurance coverage and make sure you have the right coverage and the right amount of coverage. You don’t want any costly surprises when you’re trying to get back on your feet. Keep insurance information and contact names and numbers in a safe place in case of an emergency.
If Mother Nature strikes, will you be ready?
Meteorologists can warn us of weather events, but no one can predict when disaster will strike or how it will impact your business. Even if your property isn’t damaged, you could still be out of business if roads or entire towns are closed off. Your only defense is a good plan and good business insurance.
The business insurance experts at Heffernan can help you prepare for Mother Nature’s worst, and make sure your business and your bottom line remain on solid ground.