How to Prepare Your Business For a Natural Disaster

How to prepare your business for a natural disaster

Every year hurricanes cause devastating damage in the U.S. Between 1980 and 2019, the overall cost of damage from weather and climate disasters in the U.S. is estimated to be $1.6 trillion.

According to the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season produced 15 named storms and 8 hurricanes. The season recorded two of the most damaging natural disasters, Florence and Michael. These two disasters alone resulted in a combined $49.4 billion in damage.

Hurricane Florence’s extreme winds caused severe damage in North Carolina. A total of 53 deaths were also recorded in addition to damages to properties and loss of economic output. These damages cost about $24 billion.

Hurricane Michael had catastrophic damage on Florida’s Mexico Beach and Panama City. The impact of the high wind damaged agricultural produce and forestry across several states. The total damage and loss of the disaster in the region are estimated to be $25 billion. Every year businesses have their properties damaged or lost as a result of natural disasters. Recovery from these storms is especially hard for small businesses. If they suffer the loss of physical assets like buildings, vehicles, and products, they may never reopen for business. It’s therefore important for every business to be prepared for the worst.

Here are 5 tips to help your business survive the next natural disaster.

1. Have a response plan in place

Preparation is very important to surviving a natural disaster. This includes having a follow-up plan to ensure you remain in business. Ensure you have a written plan that shows the course of action your employees should take in case of an emergency.

  • Make sure to have evacuation routes and emergency contact information in your plan.
  • Have a signpost that visibly shows evacuation routes and emergency contact information.
  • Communicate the plan in advance to all your employees.
  • Buy safety equipment like fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and first aid kits, and ensure everyone knows how to use them.
  • Reinforce these plans with regular drills so everyone becomes familiar with it before a disaster strikes.

2. Check your insurance policies

Having the proper insurance policies in place before a disaster strikes is the only way to ensure your business will recover afterward. Assess your insurance policies on a regular basis to ensure your business is covered. Make sure you really know what your policy covers. For example, your Commercial Property insurance may protect your business against wind damage, but may not insure any loss caused by flood damage.

Here are the types of insurance to consider protecting your business against interruptions or downright closure:

  • Commercial Property Insurance: This type of insurance covers the damage or loss of physical business assets as a result of natural disaster, theft, or fire. Such physical assets include office buildings, office furniture, warehouses, equipment, hard copies of business records and other business properties. Commercial property insurance also covers revenue loss as a result of damage or loss of property. However, this insurance type does not offer coverage for commercial vehicles; for that, you would need Commercial Auto insurance.
  • Commercial Flood Insurance: This insurance policy protects your business from financial loss due to water damage, especially as a result of flooding. Commercial Flood insurance provides coverage to commercial buildings and business assets from floodwater damage, including merchandise, inventory, office equipment and tools, machinery, and fixtures. Flood insurance coverage is highly recommended to business owners operating within flood-prone areas. Business owners can also make an insurance claim on preventive measures they carried out against flooding.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: This type of insurance offers coverage on the estimated lost income of a business during the period interruption caused by a disaster. You should consider this insurance package if your business relies greatly on its physical property for income, like restaurants, wholesalers, or retailers. This insurance policy offers protection against interruptions like natural disasters or fires, but not against flooding.

Check out these insurance packages and choose the right insurance coverage for your business to prevent a shut-down.

3. Plan to work remotely

Put a plan in place that will enable your business operations to continue remotely in case of a business interruption or shutdown. Although this may not work for those in very hands-on industries that require a physical product, such as restaurants or retailers, most other entrepreneurs can work remotely.

  • Identify those employees who may be able to work in a secondary location when the storm hits.
  • Create systems that will make working remotely easier for employees

These measures will at least help in ensuring that some business operations can stay running even if you’re not fully operational.

4. Try to storm-proof your office

Do everything you can ahead of time to minimize the physical damage that will be done to your property.

  • Train at least 10-15 percent of your employees on how to administer First-Aid treatment and CPR. This will prepare them to assist in case of an emergency.
  • Install flood vents or barriers to prevent flood damage.
  • Board-up windows.
  • Put out sandbags to minimize flood water from getting inside.
  • Get a generator to keep power running.
  • Don’t forget to back all your company’s data to a cloud-based platform in case you lose power.

5. Look at what your state offers

Many states already have disaster relief funds in place for their residents. Find out if your state offers disaster relief funds. Ensure you make inquiries to ascertain the eligibility of your business to apply to receive relief benefits after a storm hits. Knowing if there are such benefits available can be quite helpful for sustaining your business and even your employees after a natural disaster.

  • Be sure to investigate this ahead of time to know what your business may be eligible for.
  • Your employees may qualify for relief benefits as well, so have all the paperwork ready to submit to avoid a long application process.

No one can prevent Mother Nature from taking her course, and unfortunately, disasters are bound to happen every year. But your business doesn’t have to be a victim of the storm, having a proper plan in place ahead of time will help ensure your business will survive.

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