When the skies darkened over Texas on April 29, no one could have predicted that a rare, deadly EF4 tornado would come barreling across the plains. But that’s exactly what folks in the Canton area were hit with. At least four were killed, dozens were injured and damage was extensive.
That twister was just one of seven to hit Texas that day, and the storms that weekend caused flash flooding and left a trail of destruction across the state. It was a sobering reminder of the destructive power of Mother Nature.
For dozens of business owners, it was also a stark reminder of the importance of disaster planning.
According to the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Planning resources, if you have to shut down your business due to a disaster, there’s a 25 percent chance you’ll never reopen. Even if your own property isn’t damaged, there could be widespread power outages, flooding, blocked roads, and entire towns closed off. And you don’t want to be scrambling without a plan when disaster strikes.
How well is your business prepared to survive extreme weather?
To lessen the impact of a severe weather event on your business, include these seven tips in your disaster preparedness plan:
- Tune in to local weather. Sign up for text alerts from local news channels so you’re not caught off guard when inclement weather is in the area.
- Identify your most critical operations. What would happen if you had to be closed 10 days? Who would you need to notify? Which critical operations would need to continue? Document all essential systems and services, and the specific measures you’ll take to address each of them during an emergency.
- Protect vital documents and data. Keep crucial documents in a fire resistant safe, and conduct regular back-ups of critical data and software. Keep copies of backups in a secure location away from your premises. Print a list of key contacts and store it in an accessible location so you have an easy reference when there’s no electricity or Internet service. Print a list of contact information for employees and customers. Be sure to update these lists and your storage files at least every six months.
- Minimize the impact. Create a “before the storm” checklist of tasks to protect your physical property. This would include checking outdoor items that might need to be secured or moved such as signs, heating and air conditioning units, satellite dishes and security cameras. It may also include installing surge protectors to safeguard computers, cash registers, copiers and other office equipment from damage due to lightning strikes.
- Develop an emergency response plan. When disaster strikes, it’s important that everyone on your team knows what to do. Establish procedures for communicating with employees, shutting down operations, responding to customers and evacuating your premises. Assemble an emergency kit that includes First Aid supplies, flashlights, battery powered radios, extra batteries, tool kit, nonperishable food and bottled water, and make sure your entire staff knows where to access and how to use these emergency supplies.
- Restore operations. After a severe weather event, you’ll need a plan to restore operations and get back on your feet, including repairing or rebuilding critical infrastructure, bringing utilities back online and keeping suppliers and customers up to date on your status.
- Check your insurance coverage. Take time to review your business insurance coverage to ensure you have the proper types and amounts of coverage. After a disaster is no time to find out you’re not covered. Keep insurance information and contact numbers in a safe and easily accessible place.
Another severe weather season is upon us, so now is the time to make sure you’re prepared to survive and successfully recover from an extreme weather event. Need more information? Contact the business insurance professionals at Higginbotham Insurance. We’ll help you prepare for Mother Nature’s worst and keep your business on solid ground.