Is your business located along the coastline of the Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico or U.S. territories like Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands or Hawaii?
If so, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security strongly advises you to have an emergency preparedness plan in place that includes the steps to take before a disaster strikes. Since even businesses 100 miles inland and further have been significantly damaged in the past by hurricanes like Harvey and Maria, it’s wise to review the following information so you know how to prepare your business for hurricane season — even if you’re not located directly on the coast.
Hurricane season in the Atlantic region typically runs from the beginning of June through the end of November. Along the eastern Pacific, hurricanes are most prevalent from the middle of May all the way through the end of November.
Hurricanes are massive climatological events that can deliver high winds, rains and coastal storm surges that can result in devasting damage to lives and property. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40 percent of businesses that have closed because of a natural disaster won’t reopen. For example, Hurricane Harvey is now the nation’s third-largest economic disaster and left 9,285 electric utility customers in the state of Texas without power.
It’s important to note that hurricanes that form in the Atlantic and northern Pacific are classified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Hurricane Center according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. There are five categories in total, ranging upwards in strength and intensity from a Category 1 storm with sustained winds between 74 and 95 miles per hour to a Category 5 storm with winds in excess of 155 miles per hour.
Steps to Prepare Your Business Before a Hurricane
When it’s time to prepare a business for hurricane season, the most important steps are likely those you take well before any disaster is due to strike. Besides educating yourself and your employees about the disasters your area may be prone to — such as storm surges — the other important steps to take are all about hazard mitigation. This involves the careful review of your business’s physical location, structure, and data in order to reduce losses due to a natural disaster.
It’s advisable to put the following steps into practice as part of a hazard mitigation plan:
- Inspect the grounds, structure and especially the roof of your facility. Look for worn areas such as window frames as well as roofing materials that may need repair.
- Have thorough landscaping performed that includes pruning back trees and shrubs. Pay special attention to the grounds around parking areas and any external facilities.
- Clean out all gutters and drains so water run-off is efficient and no pooling occurs, even during heavy rainstorms.
- Back up all business documents and online data, and update your inventory of all sensitive computer and business equipment — complete with their locations. Create a security plan in case relocation is necessary.
Have a Plan
In addition to having a hazard mitigation plan, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that you have a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan in place for your business and your employees. If you don’t yet have a plan or if you’re looking to update an existing plan, FEMA provides a number of emergency preparedness resources designed specifically for businesses, including everything from business continuity to computer inventory worksheets.
However, you decide to form your plan, keep the following important aspects in mind:
- Communication: No plan is any good if nobody is aware of it. Conduct regular emergency preparedness drills and educate your staff on their responsibilities in the event an emergency plan is put into action. In general, businesses that wait too long to enact their emergency preparedness plans or do so with unclear communication channels suffer the greatest losses both in terms of property damage and lost business.
- Data and property protection: Your business’s sensitive data must be protected from damage and loss, so ensure you have everything from waterproof bags for storing business-vital documents to data backup facilities such as cloud storage. In addition, having a plan to move costly equipment away from windows and to secure areas of your building can save thousands of dollars and get you back online sooner rather than later.
- Energy continuity: Whether you’re a hospital relying on life-saving devices to work, a cold storage warehouse with perishable items or a data center with equipment that requires a constant source of energy, the continuity of your power supply cannot be overlooked. Securing the necessary power solutions such as permanent and mobile generators, as well as an experienced and reliable emergency fuel provider, can literally be a matter of life and death for those who rely on you, as well as your overall business.
Insurance Coverage For Your Business
As soon as a hurricane is forecasted — preferably earlier if possible — you’re best advised to check with your insurance provider that your coverage is sufficient. If you’re in a flood zone, remember to also check on your flood insurance.
Note that many business insurance providers will want to see that you have –
- An emergency preparedness plan in place
- Plans for keeping your business up and running by means of a backup power solution
- A dependable emergency fuel provider
This is why working with an emergency fuel provider like Foster Fuels is such a prudent choice. Since our emergency fuel division at Foster Fuels is recognized by some of the nation’s leading business insurance providers, by contracting with us to be your emergency fuel source, you can be sure your insurer will take your emergency plan seriously.
Keep Your Business Afloat With Emergency Fuel: No Downtime, No Profit Loss
Without a doubt, when you’re preparing your business for hurricane season and natural disasters, safety is your biggest concern. But the smooth running of your business before, during and after a devastating event is also an important consideration both for your business and your employees. That’s why having the critical support of Foster Fuels is one of the smartest choices you can make to protect your business, your clients and your employees. We’re ready for the worst emergency so you can look forward to the best possible results.