A good business plan can propel your company. A good disaster plan can keep it going.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. Don’t get caught off guard. Proper preparation and action steps can help save lives and reduce damage to your business—and to your reputation.
How to Prepare Your Business Before a Hurricane or Windstorm
The most important aspect of any preparation plan is communication. Make sure 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 local authorities and know your community safety plan.
Confirm that you can tune into the local NOAA radio frequency to receive critical information and storm updates.
Maintain a current list of telephone numbers and addresses for key contacts. Keep a copy accessible offsite, and provide cellular and satellite phones to essential personnel.
Ensure alternative provisions 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 tarps to cover water-sensitive equipment.
Buy plywood (min. 1/2 inch) or shutters to protect doors and windows.
Ensure proper working conditions and supplies for emergency equipment, such as flashlights and battery-powered radios, drills and saws.
Stock non-perishable food, first-aid supplies, drinking water and batteries. Keep them in waterproof containers.
Purchase NIOSH-approved disposable N-95 respirators for working with moldy or damp materials.
Create an emergency evacuation kit for employees and their families including 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 Hurricane or Windstorm
During a hurricane or severe storm, it's important to maintain a calm demeanor and execute your facility's Emergency Action Plan. Below are key steps to keep your employees, tenants and building safe during a severe storm:
Evacuate non-essential personnel from the facility.
Move fuel, 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 by storing them in a waterproof container or off site.
Move 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 non-perishable 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 interior rooms, such as bathrooms, closets or hallways. If you are in a multistory building, shelter under a desk, table or other sturdy object on the first or second floor.
Listen frequently to radio, TV or NOAA weather broadcasts for official bulletins on the storm’s progress.
Steps to Take after a Hurricane or Windstorm
Even after the storm passes, 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 entry or work.
Assess damage to buildings and equipment. Photograph and document all damage. Notify your insurance agent as soon as possible.
If it is safe to do so, make temporary repairs to protect the building and contents. Remove and discard porous organic materials that have become wet or visibly contaminated. Use protective equipment as necessary.
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, or may harbor dangerous wildlife or loose debris or objects.
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 business policyholder and your building suffered damage from a hurricane or windstorm, click here to begin the claims process.