Can Your Business Stand Up to a Hurricane?

This post was created for and sponsored by SERVPRO®.

Key West, Florida during a storm

Key West, Florida during a storm | Pixabay

Your business can and has withstood many challenges. Recessions, product failures, supply chain breakdowns — as a business owner, you’ve seen it all. The fact is, running a business is, in many ways, more akin to a juggling act than it is anything else. You’re constantly running from one proverbial fire to the next, dealing with each crisis as it comes.

And still, your business stands.

But what about external threats? “Acts of God”, or large-scale threats to your business that you may have never even considered, let alone prepared for? They’re out there, and many business owners simply don’t give them much thought, or shift their focus onto things they can control. Case in point? Hurricane season.

Hurricanes: A larger threat than you realize

Take a minute to consider which parts or systems in your business are susceptible to hurricanes. Obviously, your physical holdings could be damaged or completely lost during a hurricane, along with any stock or supply you have waiting to be sold or moved. That, right there, could be enough to drive the proverbial stake right through the heart of your company.

But there’s more to it than that. Your employees and workforce are also going to be put into considerable danger during a hurricane. And even if your buildings, machinery, and other physical capital manages to escape damage, a lack of fresh water, electricity, and even communication may make it impossible to keep your inventory from spoiling or being destroyed.

As a business, you rely on other businesses to keep running. Don’t forget that if one of your suppliers were to be forced under by a powerful hurricane or storm system, your company’s health is immediately put into jeopardy.

Hurricane preparedness: What you can do

If you hadn’t given much thought to hurricane preparedness, now is the time. Scientists are suggesting that climate change and warming waters in the Atlantic Ocean could spur on the growth and intensity of more hurricanes in coming years — so if there’s ever been a time to prepare your business for a big storm, it’s now.

Commonly, we only get a glimpse of business owners getting ready for hurricanes hours before they hit. That may include images of small-business owners boarding up their windows, or even erecting walls of sand bags around their property. These are last-ditch efforts, most of the time, and won’t be as effective as more serious planning.

So, what can you do? There are a ton of resources out there to help, many from government agencies like FEMA and the NOAA. Basically, you’ll want to make preparations to your business property — and all the physical assets you can think of — in any way you can. Get insured, first and foremost, and take any steps you can to ward off any potential hazards. Get generators to back up refrigeration systems, and install emergency lights to help employees and customers get to safety as well.

Scout for potential problems

It’s only a matter of time before a hurricane or strong storm hits — it’s inevitable. That leaves you with the option of sitting back and waiting for an emergency situation to manifest, or getting out ahead of the problem. As you may have guessed, investing in disaster preparedness ahead of time saves you money exponentially down the line, so you want to do what you can now.

Have a professional come take a look at your building and equipment, and see if there are any areas in which you can invest in preparedness. This can also help you figure out what types of insurance coverage you may need, and even help you devise a plan for when disaster does strike.

Get ready for wind damage…

If there’s one thing that hurricanes are known for, it’s wind. In fact, hurricanes are actually categorized according to their wind speed, from 1-5 on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Knowing that, you know that if your business is in danger of being hit by a hurricane, then wind damage is inevitable. Hurricane-force winds can lead to punctured walls and break windows, starting fires and allowing water in. In effect, strong winds could only be the start of your problems.

Hopefully, you did some scouting ahead and have a plan in place. Prior to a storm hitting, get everything away from the windows, and as many business owners do, board them up to protect the panes. Make sure electrical devices are out of harm’s way, as well.

…and water

If there are two things hurricanes are known for, it’s wind and water. Water damage is what’s truly going to do significant damage to your business, equipment, and inventory — and that damage can start within minutes of moisture getting into your building. For that reason, you’ll need to have a plan in place for getting it cleaned up and taken care of as fast as possible.

Some initial steps to take, before calling in a professional cleaning and restoration team, are to mop and wipe down any surfaces that you can. Put aluminum foil or wood blocks under furniture to give some space between fixtures and wet flooring. Also, if you can, turn on the air conditioner and keep it running to get the drying process started.

Know what and how to clean and restore

In the event that your business has sustained some damage, don’t hesitate to call a professional cleaning and restoration service. You may be tempted to do the work yourself, or to simply ignore any water or wind damage, but it’s only going to cost you in the end. You could end up inadvertently creating fire or electrical hazards, and of course, having a serious mold problem on your hands.

Mold remediation is of the utmost importance following a hurricane or strong storm, as it can actually lead to health problems for your staff and customers if it’s not dealt with promptly. Failure to do so can cost you down the line in productivity costs as people get sick, and in clear dollar terms if inventory gets destroyed. Of course, you’ll still need to have the problem taken care of, so don’t wait. Call a professional mold mediation service as soon as possible.

Create a plan

Finally, be sure to have a plan in place. Know how and when to get to safety, if need be. Have a place to stay in the event you or your employees can’t get home, and reliable ways to communicate. There’s only so much you can do to protect your business, but the absolute most important thing you can do is to plan ahead. Assuming you’ve anticipated wind, water, and mold threats, you can act rationally and carefully in the time following a hurricane.

Your business has withstood everything the world has thrown at it so far, and if you plan ahead, it’ll be able to withstand a hurricane as well. Just be sure to take the steps to insure yourself by being proactive, creating a plan, and knowing the right professionals to call for help.