Our local businesses are the backbone of our community and natural disasters can quickly ruin them if proper business preparation is put on the back burner. Our weather is getting more extreme every year and it could take one powerful storm to not only create massive physical damage to local business, but cause extended periods of lost income which could cripple businesses. Let’s take a look at some proactive steps our local business can take to make them more resilient in the face of a disaster.
Check your insurance policies! Standing in three feet of flood water is NOT the time to realize you do not have flood insurance. A quick call to our office and we can tell you what you are and are not covered for and discuss the benefits of increased limits or additional coverages.
Create a business continuity plan. This goes for small disasters (one that may just affect your business) and large, community-wide disasters. Your small disaster plans may include having a secondary location that you can run your business from (your home, a friend’s office, etc.) while your office/store/shop is repaired. Make sure your client data is backed up offsite so you can continue to service your clients. If your business is big enough, you may want to appoint one person as the “go to” disaster coordinator.
Create a protection plan. This is as important for businesses as it is for the general population. If a storm is looming do you know where you can store your vital business equipment? Are there items that should be moved to higher ground, disconnected from power, covered or physically secured so they don’t float or blow away? Is your generator fueled up and properly serviced for quick and easy connection (and stored in a place that won’t flood)? Do you have ample supplies to protect your building (plywood, screws, tarps, etc)?
Establish a communication plan. You will want one for your employees as well as for your clients. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information for all employees and clients. Communicate early and honestly. Let everyone know if you have an issue that impacts their job or your ability to provide your service. Delays of schedule due to large scale disasters are obviously easier for your clients to understand as they are likely standing in a similar flood. But if the disaster is a smaller scale, it is imperative that you have your job schedule and client contact info at your fingertips to update them and come up with a plan.
This all may seem very time consuming and overwhelming, BUT it’s important to take a little time now to establish a clear plan for both yourself and your employees. The time and effort you take now could literally save your business when a disaster strikes.
As areas are still recovering from the devastating 2017 hurricane season, now is the time to take steps to protect your home and assets. While the 2018 season is not projected to be near 2017, it only takes one storm to wreak havoc in your life and preparation can ease any pain.
So let’s look at six prep steps.
Check your property. Now is the time to walk around your home and property and check for any potential hazards. Are there trees with large overhanging limbs that may come down in a storm? Is your fencing coming loose leading to it becoming a potential missile in a hurricane? How does your roof look? Are there loose, damaged or missing shingles? Is there debris in your yard that could blow around and cause damage to your home/property or your neighbors’? Now is the time to take steps to ensure that any issues are fixed.
Check the four areas where water is most likely to enter your home and cause damage: roof, windows, doors, and your garage.
Protect your irreplaceable valuables. You have your homeowners/renters insurance that will help replace your belongings should you suffer any damage/loss. But there are things that are irreplaceable that you should take extra care to protect. Your photo albums, family documents, mementos, etc. should be stored in waterproof containers and ideally taken with you should you ever have to evacuate.
Review your home/renters/flood/auto policies. Life changes fast sometimes and you may not have communicated significant changes to your agent and could leave yourself without enough coverage. It’s not uncommon for clients to have finished their basements but forgot to tell their agent only to suffer damage and find out they were not covered. A quick call to your agent for a policy review is quick and free!
Create a home inventory. A home inventory is an invaluable tool should you need to file a claim. Document with photos/video your valuables and the contents of your home (click HEREfor a fillable inventory list). Make a note of the approximate date and cost of purchase. If you have receipts, scan them to a cloud service along with the inventory list and photos/video. Should you suffer a loss, your list, receipts and photos/videos will speed up the claims process. Documentation is a critical component for claims.
Safely store your important documents. Most of us do not need daily access to our birth certificates, mortgage documents, deeds, wills, etc but should they be lost or damaged are very tough to replace. Keep copies of important documents on hand, but consider storing the originals in a fire/waterproof safe in a secure location in your home or in a safety deposit box at your local bank.
Now that the weather has finally turned toward spring, this is the perfect time to check your property, create a home inventory and properly store your valuables and important documents.