Ready, Respond, Recover: Essential Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Commercial Businesses
June 1 marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, and this year, NOAA forecasters estimate 12 to 17 named storms of which five to nine could develop into major hurricanes. With the increased potential for severe weather and its associated risks, it is crucial for businesses to take proactive measures to safeguard their assets and employees. Our Ascot Claims and Loss Control professionals have compiled the following tips to help commercial business owners protect their property and their people before, during, and after a storm.
Before the Storm Threat
An effective storm readiness plan is a year-round endeavor. Before the start of each season, commercial business owners and risk management teams are encouraged to:
- Assemble a storm response team: Identify and clearly assign roles to all critical staff members involved in implementing and/ or responding to your Storm Readiness Plan
- Evaluate potential hazards: Know your hurricane evacuation and flood zones and check the condition of nearby trees to ensure they are healthy and clear of power lines.
- Source essential preparedness equipment: This varies based on location and can include flashlights, plywood generators, fuel pumps, sandbags, personal protective equipment (PPE), batteries, dehumidifiers and more.
- Develop a thorough Storm Readiness Plan:
- Create a communication system: Compile emergency contact information for all team members and establish a notification system to quickly communicate updates and instructions to the entire team.
- Develop a timeline: Detail the specific actions needed – and who will take them – throughout every stage of the hurricane threat.
- Prepare for recovery: Create a post-hurricane recovery plan that outlines steps for restoring operations, assessing damages, and initiating insurance claims. Identify and establish relationships with reputable contractors, restoration services, and suppliers who can assist in the recovery process.
- Review and practice your Storm Readiness Plan:
- Review your Storm Readiness Plan, ensuring it remains up to date, on an annual, monthly, or quarterly basis.
- Practice your Storm Readiness Plan with the entire team to familiarize everyone with their roles and responsibilities during an emergency.
- Review insurance coverage: Regularly review and update your commercial insurance coverage to ensure it adequately protects your business and its assets.
During the Storm Threat
When a storm is forecast to hit the area, it’s time to put your Storm Readiness Plan into action. Alert your response team to the threat and begin following your Storm Readiness Plan. Specifically, the following steps can help mitigate damage:
- Secure property: Anchor or secure any loose outdoor equipment or structures that could become projectiles during high winds and reinforce windows and doors with storm shutters or plywood to protect against flying debris.
- Safeguard documents and data: Back up important business documents and data to an off-site location or cloud storage and store physical copies of essential documents in waterproof and fireproof containers.
- Check emergency supply stock: Ensure an ample supply of non-perishable food, drinking water, and necessary medications, as well as personal hygiene items, necessary PPE and first aid kits, for employees and customers who may be on-site during a hurricane or its aftermath.
After the Storm
- Establish communication: Contact any on-site personnel and assess their safety.
- Safely secure the site: Identify hazards such as downed power lines and standing water and notify the proper authorities to secure the area. Limit access to damaged property until the structural integrity can be determined.
- Assess the extent of damage: Document property damage with photographs and videos. Set aside damaged materials and inventory for later inspections.
- Initiate contact with necessary outside service providers.
- Dry out: Begin pumping out water and drying equipment and tools; use fans and dehumidifiers to dry out buildings and structures.
- Restore computer systems: Including security and fire protection systems.
- Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
- Track costs: Document all costs of storm clean up, including emergency services, internal labor costs, temporary repairs, and restoration.
- Send in a notice of claim: Once immediate needs have been addressed, promptly notify your insurance company of a claim. At Ascot, we will have a dedicated claims adjuster reach out to begin investigating your claim and assisting with your needs to help you get back up and running.
To submit a claim to Ascot US, please contact:
Toll-Free Number: 1-833-454-3023
Claims may be reported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
This article is provided for purposes of general education only, is not intended for the purpose of providing legal advice or legal counsel, and is not intended to assure compliance with or complete analysis of any law, rule or regulation. Additionally, this article should not be interpreted to imply or infer that all exposures, hazards or loss potentials on any subject or issue were identified or considered. No warranty, or guaranty of accuracy, fitness or suitability, express or implied, is granted with respect to any of the information contained herein.