A good business plan can propel your company. A good disaster plan can keep it going.

Windstorm season runs from June 1 to November 30. That means you have six months to prepare. Don’t get caught off guard. Proper preparation and action steps can help save lives and reduce damage to your business—and your reputation.

How to Prepare Your Business Before a Windstorm

The most important aspect of any preparation plan is communication. Make sure the key members of your team are on the same page before the storm so that when it comes time to execute, your plan will go smoothly. Use these guidelines in combination with your own preparedness plan:

  • Establish or review an Emergency Action Plan that considers prevention, emergency response, evacuation criterion, disaster recovery and key personnel.
  • Designate an Emergency Coordinator and Emergency Action Team. Schedule meetings and drills to ensure members know their roles and responsibilities.
  • Review your Emergency Action Plan with the local authorities and know your community safety plan.
  • Confirm that you can receive Environment Canada public weather alerts to receive critical information and storm updates.
  • Maintain a current list of key contacts with telephone numbers and addresses. Keep a copy accessible off-site, and provide cellular and satellite phones to essential personnel.
  • Ensure provisions for alternate remote data transmissions.
  • Inspect roofs and flashings to ensure they are properly secure.
  • Trim trees and shrubbery. Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts and check drain pumps.
  • Secure or brace outside storage tanks, sheds and other structures.
  • Maintain a supply of plastic or tarp to cover water-sensitive equipment.
  • Buy plywood (min. 1/2 inch) or shutters to protect doors and windows.
  • Ensure proper working conditions for emergency equipment, such as flashlights and battery-powered radios, drills and saws.
  • Stock nonperishable food, first-aid supplies, drinking water and batteries.
  • Create an emergency evacuation kit for employees and their families that includes first aid, baby food and diapers, cards, games, books, toiletries, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, blankets or sleeping bags, identification and valuable papers.

How to Protect Your Business During a Windstorm

During a severe windstorm, it's important to maintain a calm demeanor and execute your facility's Emergency Action Plan. Below are key steps in keeping your employees, tenants and building safe during a severe storm:

  • Evacuate non-essential personnel.
  • Move fuel and service emergency vehicles and generators inside the building or to a safe location.
  • Cover all windows and doors with shutters or other shielding materials.
  • Anchor all equipment stored outside. Remove all awnings and lightweight outdoor coverings. Brace all signs, tanks and roof equipment.
  • Protect vital records from being destroyed by storing them in a waterproof container or off-site.
  • Move all possible valuables off the floor onto furniture and shelving. Secure back-up records off-site, away from the targeted hurricane area.
  • Ensure an adequate stock of nonperishable food, first-aid supplies, drinking water and other supplies for staff and emergency crews.
  • If there are people in the building, close all interior doors and secure and brace external doors. Stay away from windows and doors even if they are covered. Take refuge in a small interior room, such as a bathroom, closet or hallway. If you are in a multistory building, go to the first or second floor and remain on the floor under a desk, table or other sturdy object.
  • Continue to monitor Environment Canada public weather alerts or local television and radio stations for official bulletins on the storm’s progress.

Steps to Take After a Windstorm

Even after you've weathered the storm, it's important to follow certain steps to keep yourself, your employees and your building safe.

  • Account for all employees who stayed at the facility during the emergency. If someone needs to be rescued, call professionals with the right equipment to help.
  • Conduct a preliminary inspection to verify stability before entering a flooded, formerly flooded or wind-damaged building. If there is extensive damage, have a professional engineer or architect certify that the building is safe for work.
  • Assess damage to buildings and equipment. Photograph and document all damage. Notify your insurance broker as soon as possible.
  • Make temporary repairs to protect the building and contents. Remove and discard porous organic materials that have become wet or visibly contaminated.
  • Have professionals check gas, water and electrical lines and appliances for damage.
  • Stay away from standing water. It may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Use caution in flooded areas. Floodwaters may be contaminated by agricultural or industrial chemicals or hazardous agents.
  • Do not attempt to drive across flowing water.
  • Use a flashlight for emergency lighting. Never use candles and other open flames indoors. Only use tap water for drinking and cooking after local officials have reported that it is safe to do so.
  • When using a generator, be sure that the main circuit breaker is off and locked out prior to starting the generator.
  • Avoid breathing dust (potential fungal spores) generated by wet building materials.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • If you’re a Chubb client and your building suffered damage due to a winter storm, click here to begin the claims process.