Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Your Small Business

By Adam P. Newton, July 22, 2013, Hurricane Prep, Small Biz

Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Your Small Business from Bounce EnergyAs a small business owner, you face double the stress when a hurricane threatens your area. Not only do you have to make sure that your family, friends, and home are safe from harm, you also have to ensure that your small business is affected as little as possible. You don’t have some larger corporate entity above you that will take care of the details or help you recoup any losses from property damage or time away because you evacuated.

Thankfully, by engaging in some preventative hurricane preparedness measures, you can take great strides to reducing any worries you might face if a hurricane makes landfall near your small business.

Take Care of Your Building

Thanks to the magic of the Internet, many small business owners operate in a digital world exclusively, but there are still plenty folks operating in a physical space that will definitely need attention if it’s going to weather a hurricane. There are 3 primary hurricane preparedness steps you should take to make sure your facility stays intact.

1) Seal and Secure Openings

  • Make sure you have the necessary plywood to cover all the glass in your building, whether it’s in a window or door. This plywood should be purchased, measured, and stored well in advance of a hurricane.
  • Apply a fresh coat of caulk around your doors and pipes to keep out moisture.
  • Clean out your gutters to allow for the free flow of rainwater.
  • Invest in flood insurance if your business is in a flood-prone area.

2) Seal and Secure Your Roof

  • Get your roof inspected for any serious issues and then get those issues resolved.
  • Address minor issues with a sealant rated for high winds and heavy rain.

3) Seal and Secure Your Walls

  • Check to see if wood supports, vinyl/aluminum siding, and or metal exterior is properly fastened.
  • Add additional screws to your exterior to ensure that exterior remains attached during high winds.

Obviously, if you don’t actually own your physical space, you should still recommend these tips to your landlord in hopes that he/she follows them and prevents any damage from affecting your business.

Take Care of Your Employees

Hopefully, you know about any potential hurricane well enough in advance that your employees aren’t actually at work when landfall occurs, but it’s important to consider their needs as an employer and small business owner.

  • You can keep your employees safe by being aware of the weather situation and giving them the necessary time to prepare their home and family in case an evacuation is ordered.
  • You can also discuss pay and workflow concerns in advance, especially in case an extended evacuation or serious damage occurs that prevents your business from re-opening as promptly as possible.
  • Have reliable methods of communicating with employees during a disaster, and keep your employees informed and knowledgeable about the company’s emergency plans.
  • Make sure that contact information for employees, key customers, important vendors and suppliers, and insurance companies are not just backed-up but accessible electronically for employees.

Take Care of Your Customers

Depending upon the nature of your small business, you might have customers who will be affected by the hurricane – either directly or because your business will be suspended by the storm. We recommend the following steps:

  • Inform your customers about what they can expect from your company in the event that business is suspended or delayed by a storm
  • Make sure your customers know your company’s emergency contact information for sales and service support, as well as alternative methods for placing orders and payments.
  • If applicable, highlight any/all other store or office locations not affected by the storm on your website.

Take Care of Your Business

For some small business owners, any loss of sales or damage to physical space caused by a storm can be detrimental to the survival of the business as a whole. Thus, it’s important that you have provisions in place to continue operating your business should a hurricane or storm knock out primary operations.

  • Identify an alternate location where a skeleton crew can keep working, and ensure that your staff has the necessary equipment, files, and resources to keep functioning.
  • Document your property by taking photos of your property before the storm arrives. Having this information available will help your insurance company better assess any damage you might have incurred so that you can get the funds you need as quickly as possible so that you can start fixing things.
  • Address your emergency cash-flow needs by ensuring that your various bank accounts include emergency funds. We also encourage people to keep enough cash on hand to handle immediate needs, since a hurricane will probably disrupt the electricity that powers credit card readers and electronic transactions.
  • Identify the business operations that you feel are the most important to your company, and then develop a plan to ensure that these are brought back up to speed as promptly as possible.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips for Your Small Business from Bounce EnergyBe Prepared

In general, all of these hurricane preparedness tips can be summarized as one core tip: “Be Prepared.” There are many worthwhile and helpful resources available on several websites, specifically from the government at the city, state, and national level. We recommend viewing ready.gov/hurricanes for an excellent collection of checklists and tools that can help your small business first get ready for a hurricane and then weather that storm successfully.

Be Informed

And once all of your preparations have been made, you must stay “in the know.” You could be the most prepared person possible in terms of supplies and plans, but if you’re not sure when or where an actual storm will strike, your hurricane preparedness will have been for naught.

In short, the 2013 Hurricane Season is projected to be above-average in terms of storm activity, no matter which meteorologist you prefer. For example, accuweather.com predicts that we will experience 16 storms in total. Eight of them will turn into hurricanes, and 4 of those will become major hurricanes. And of those 4, 3 are projected to achieve landfall on U.S. soil.

You should stay informed by visiting our Hurricane Prep Center, following Bounce Energy on Twitter, and “Liking” us on Facebook. There, we’ll provide a wealth of information about storms as they form and make their way towards the United States mainland, as well as other hurricane related material (including our Hurricane Tracking Chart and Hurricane Prep Guide).

We want to help you prepare your small business for a hurricane this year and every year!

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About 

Born and raised in Southeast Texas, Adam P. Newton never acquired the charming accent that most life-long Texans possess in spades, but he’s OK with that. Adam currently creates and curates online content for Direct Energy. Before his career in content marketing, Adam spent several years toiling as a music journalist.

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