Hurricane season officially begins June 1, 2021, and experts are predicting an active season in North America. The Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project is forecasting 17 named storms, compared to a 30-year average of 14.4 named storms. The 2021 predictions include eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes (with winds of 115+ miles per hour). Retailers and other businesses will need to have solid plans in place, and share them with key personnel, to deal with what could be multiple weather events in areas they serve.
“Even if you have a tried-and-true plan in place, now is the time to look at it with a fresh mindset,” said Paul Isaac, SVP and Loss Control Leader at insurance company QBE North America in a statement. “Businesses have undergone significant challenges and changes in the last year that may not be adequately addressed in their disaster response plans, and the risks from pandemic are still present.”
QBE provided these seven hurricane preparedness tips:
- Employers should be sure to have an up-to-date formal business continuity plan in place, which should be shared with key staff well in advance of a hurricane;
- Gather contacts that are crucial to business operations, such as employees, banks, lawyers, accountants, suppliers, etc. Save this information in an alternate, accessible off-site location;
- Have a plan in place if there is a loss of power. Make sure generators are on hand and employees know how to use them safely. Companies should be prepared for longer than usual power outages;
- COVID-19 safety is still an issue, especially with the potential for additional on-site workers such as outside responders, contractors and vendors in the event of storm damage. Businesses should have formalized procedures for protecting all workers during both response and restoration periods;
- Have an up-to-date inventory of what is in your offices and facilities. All products and assets should be documented. Also save a record of current financials and keep in mind physical records can easily get destroyed, so have a backup elsewhere;
- Make sure employees know how to turn off water, gas and other utilities when necessary, and conduct proper facilities training so multiple people can be called on in a crisis, if needed, especially those in close proximity to the business; and
- Stock up on essential items ahead of time and, if possible, use a storage facility for storing materials like chainsaws, fuel for generators, plywood, pumps and other key machinery, as well as survival needs like PPE, disinfectants, water, food items, batteries, first aid kits and medications.
Additional resources include the Ready Business Hurricane Toolkit from FEMA.