Actions and planning during the off-season impact how well you are ready to weather another hurricane season. In recent years, the U.S. mainland experienced more hurricane activity than in the recent past. If you felt prepared, that’s great – keep it up! If you didn’t feel prepared, now is the time to get ready for 2020.
Ensure that you have a communication plan to notify your people as a hurricane approaches so you can account for everyone (and don’t forget your road warriors and off-site people) and provide direction on what to do as the threat increases. It’s best to have multiple ways to contact people – email, cell phones, public radio, etc. as some methods of communication may be more reliable than others.
If you need people to be on site during a hurricane, make plans for a safe shelter location and sufficient provisions to last the duration of the storm and immediate time after. Don’t forget that your people will also have homes to prepare for the hurricane so begin your preparations early and rotate people. You may have experienced many operational changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic that affect your hurricane planning so now is a good time to review your plans.
You may feel that your facility is not in the hurricane’s wind path, but are you in its rain path? Water losses can be as devastating as wind losses. In addition to the precautions above, review low lying docks, doors or other areas and provide sandbags or other barriers to keep water out of your facility. If your facility has a basement or subgrade level, relocate electronic and computer equipment and any other valuable materials to a higher level. Lastly, test sump pumps or rent them ahead of time so water can be quickly removed from the facility.
If you’ve successfully kept your people and your building safe, you’ll want to have a business to resume. Ensure that you effectively communicate in advance with your customers and suppliers and advise them that you may be affected by a storm, especially if they are not in the storm’s path.
If possible, increase product shipments ahead of the storm and delay supply deliveries to reduce the amount and value of the goods in the building. If you can divert service to a sister location until you recover, let your customers know and ensure that their products and services are uninterrupted and that there are no issues. Keep the communication flowing at each step of the recovery process so your customers and suppliers are aware that you value their partnerships.
If you’re not sure you have the time to tackle these hurricane-planning basics, consider how much time you’ll have if you don’t have a business to return to after the storm. Planning is an investment in your people, your business and yourself.
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This post was originally published in May 2019; updated May 2020.
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