The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season has officially begun. Starting back on Saturday, June 1 and taking us through Saturday, November 30, the most active month, September, is still to come. Though 2019 is not predicted to be the worst of hurricane seasons, these storms are still quite unpredictable, and this year may be an above-average year. AccuWeather is indicating a prediction of 12 to 14 storms. Even during an average season, we can expect to see eight to 1 tropical storms though not all of them will strike land. Because of this risk, businesses need to act diligently to ensure that they are properly prepared both for business continuity and to protect their employees.
If you are a business owner or leader, now is the time to start ensuring you are ready for the 2019 hurricane season. Failure to act and prepare now can mean lost revenue and productivity later. Sometimes, the revenue that is lost during a storm can never be recovered in the future months, and thus taking the time to ensure that your employees are cared for and that critical business operations can continue is often the difference between whether or not your business will survive the season.
How to prepare your business for hurricane season 2019
These tips are designed to help every organization protect their business and employees in the event a hurricane is predicted to make landfall in their area.
1. Determine what matters most. It can be very intimidating to take on the hefty task of determining what disruptions can take place in your business, and what you can do to lessen the financial loss. But, the critical place to start is by looking at what keeps your business running on a day to day basis. You will likely find that it is your people, your assets, and your location.
Your employees are your greatest asset
2. Protecting your people should be at the top of mind for every employer. Without our employees, we can’t operate our business. But more importantly, these employees are people with families and concerns of their own outside of work. When employers take the time to ensure that their employees are cared for, it builds loyalty and will result in employees working harder to help the business recover after the storm. Have your human resources representative take care to document the following for every employee, and to maintain these records year-round.
• Location of each employee —not just their address, but their travel schedule too if applicable.
• Make note of which employees are remote and the location of their remote offices.
• Record the cellular phone number (and landline if applicable) for each employee – inform employees that in the event of a storm, that they must check-in to a central number each day to provide their whereabouts and status on their well-being.
3. Conduct an inventory of your company assets, and have this maintained throughout the year, as this will make future storm seasons easier. For each asset, make note of the model and serial numbers, the physical location of the assets, and the person that most frequently uses that asset (if applicable). Make note of whether these items are owned or insured as well.
4. Make note of all of your business locations. Even facilities that are located well inland are vulnerable to severe storm damage. Though a hurricane can weaken to a tropical storm, it can still stall over a heavily populated area and cause disastrous flooding. Flooding can occur at a single building or at all of your facilities along the coast. Be sure to consider how to best fortify each location and work with your property management company to determine the level of support that they can provide.
5. Build your emergency plan. Make sure that your plan is flexible to account for the anticipated changes in people, assets, and locations. Incorporate core infrastructure elements that are unlikely to change even as your business grows. Back up your data frequently and set up cloud systems where possible to ensure you can access key business systems and data from mobile devices. This information may include payroll, customer management, and human resources systems.
6. Create an emergency response team and implement your communication plan to ensure the safety of your employees as well as to keep employees updated each day during the storm. This could be a recording that employees dial-in to each morning to get the latest, or it can be a social media post on your company’s private internal Facebook page. Make sure that your emergency team has clear roles and responsibilities and conduct practice sessions periodically throughout the year, especially if you have had staff turnover.
Be prepared for hurricane season 2019
Hurricanes are inevitable in the Houston and other coastal areas of Texas. But, if you have a solid framework in place so that your business can weather a violent storm, you will be far more likely to rebound and keep your business profitable. Weather experts can predict hurricanes several days in advance with today’s technology. As such, businesses should pay attention to the weather forecasts during storm season and use that insight to their benefit.