Hurricane Harvey has been a stern reminder the devastation hurricanes can leave behind. Now, with Irma threatening, there’s a small, yet crucial, window of opportunity to prepare and mitigate damage.
Protect Your Property
Due to the financial magnitude of loss and time spent on repairs, 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster according to Claims Journal. Protecting your property goes a long way to securing what is inside.
- Trim or remove damaged trees and limbs on your property.
- Secure loose gutters and unclog as necessary.
- Lock storm shutters. If you do not own shutters, purchase plywood to protect windows and doors.
- Move utilities (heaters, gas tanks, etc.) to higher locations. Turn off power as hurricane makes landfall if possible.
- Sandbag areas prone to flooding.
- Secure outdoor items such as patio equipment/furniture.
Create an Inventory Checklist
Are you able to rattle off your possessions in your business and how much value they hold? If you have to file a claim, you’ll need a detailed list of your possessions so be sure to have a detailed inventory checklist.
- Do a walk through and document items of value inside and on your property.
- Take pictures of each room to photograph the contents within. Include make, model and serial number of items and photos of receipts if available.
- Conduct a video walk-through. Announce items as you see them.
- Back up your inventory. Both hard and digital copies of your inventory will limit the potential of the list to be misplaced or washed away.
- Appreciation may occur on some valuable items such as jewelry. Contact your independent agent to verify you have adequate coverage.
Protect Important Documents and Information
If a storm does impact your business, the road to recovery becomes easier when you are able to reach key contacts and provide essential documents.
- Verify you have saved important contacts to your phone (lawyer, employees, bank, accountants, etc.)
- Back up important documents such as insurance information, tax documents, legal documents.
- Seal documents in waterproof containers.
Be sure to account for the following key disaster plan points:
- Safety – Evacuation, basic necessities and fuel.
- Communication – Leaders to maintain contact with customers and employees.
- Production – Opportunities to continue business functions.
- Security – Backed up data, software and sensitive information storage.
For easy access to plans, consider downloading an app, like Know Your Plan, so everyone can have access to your business’ disaster plan checklist.
Be sure to follow evacuation orders. You may think you are secure riding out a storm, but underestimating a hurricane could have dire consequences.
- Determine a meeting spot and communication plan for employees.
- Build an emergency survival kit.
- Identify multiple lodging options.
- Be aware of multiple routes to reach your destination(s). Roads may be closed.
- Fill vehicle gas tanks. Lines will be long and at some locations gas will run out.
- If possible, identify a contact person outside of the danger zone.
While you can never fully avoid the risks of natural disasters, preparing in the days and months leading up to a potential storm could be the difference of life and death.