Hurricanes, heavy rains, flash floods, winter storms, and other disasters can endanger your business and put your property at risk. Help protect your employees and your business by developing an emergency action plan that’s flexible enough to help mitigate any emergency that could arise.
Develop a plan
Advanced preparation can prevent or substantially reduce your chances of loss. Here are some steps to consider when developing your emergency action plan:
- Designate an emergency coordinator responsible for your emergency action plan.
- Establish chain-of-command and communication procedures—be sure to consider all your employees and their typical work environments.
- Identify communication resources and emergency responders, and confirm:
- Everyone can access resources in a crisis
- Contact information will be available during a power loss
- Information is updated regularly
- Detail your emergency action plan in writing—from identifying individuals responsible for plan action and coordination to noting procedures to follow in an emergency.
- Add a security component to your plan to protect against crime and terrorism.
Protect your facilities
Your emergency action plan should also address weather-related emergencies that could affect your physical locations. Here are some tips to help protect your facilities if a weather emergency is imminent:
- Attach plywood over glass windows and doors.
- Cover computers and electronics to prevent water infiltration.
- Shut off your building’s utilities.
- Anchor any loose objects located outside the building.
- Designate a protective shelter area for employees.
- Determine if your business is in a flood zone and, if so, what type.
- Transfer your inventory and equipment to a safe facility, if possible.
Protect your business records
The loss of records, files, and documents from a disaster can add to damage costs and delay your return to normal operations. The longer these records are unavailable, the more likely you are to permanently lose customers. To protect your important documents, first consider their vulnerability to different types of disasters (flood, fire, etc.), and take the following steps:
- Keep computers above flood level and away from large windows.
- Store vital documents in a secure off-site location.
- Back up electronic files and store copies off-site.
- Store records in a secure, fireproof location.
Put your plan into action
With your emergency action plan in place, you’re ready to help protect your employees and your business from whatever comes your way. Your preparation will help keep them safe during a disaster and may prevent losses, too.
Prepare for hurricane season
In the United States, hurricane season runs from June through November. And with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting an above-normal 2020 hurricane season, it’s essential that businesses located in regions that could be impacted by hurricanes understand how to prepare and respond.
To help keep you, your employees, and your business safe during hurricane season, review these strategies and incorporate them into your safety program:
- Survey your property: Identify where your building and property may be vulnerable to high winds and rising water.
- Plan ahead:
- Create a response plan to deal with the areas that’ll be most affected by the storm.
- Develop emergency checklists that include tasks like securing and covering doors and windows and unplugging electrical equipment if you lose power.
- Establish warning and evacuation procedures for your facility, and familiarize yourself with your community’s evacuation plans in case you need to leave the area.
- Prepare a communication plan to keep employees and customers updated after the storm.
- Get organized: Create an emergency response team and designate an emergency coordinator.
- Be ready to move: Identify a safe place at a higher elevation where you can take critical files and paperwork. Be sure to include room for valuable building equipment, supplies, and vehicles.
- Practice your plan: Review your hurricane response plan and look for areas that might need revisions. If there’s time before the storm hits, walk through the procedures to make sure everything—and everyone—is ready.
It’s also important to understand the difference between a watch and a warning:
- Hurricane watch: A hurricane is possible within the next 24–36 hours.
- Hurricane warning: Winds already exceed 74 mph, and high water and rough seas are expected within the next 24 hours.
While you hopefully won’t be forced to evacuate your facilities, it’s essential to be prepared for that possibility. We’ve put together a guide to help you evaluate your emergency response and evacuation plan.
The 2020 hurricane season also coincides with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which can introduce additional safety considerations. To help you manage these risks, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has developed an operational guide for COVID-19 safety during hurricane season.
For additional information on preparing for extreme weather and other disasters, or for other safety topics, please contact your Sentry representative if you’re a current customer.
If you’re not an existing Sentry customer and you’re interested in learning more about how our Safety team can help minimize risk at your business, contact us.