What is Business Hurricane Preparedness?

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL / ACCESSWIRE / May 24, 2021 / Hurricane season begins on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, and businesses must recognize the impending threat to their locations and begin preparing to mitigate both physical and digital damage right away.

NOAA predicts an above-average number of hurricanes to form in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This will be the sixth year in a row that the organization has made such a forecast.

Although some elements of business hurricane preparation overlap with residential planning, it is essential to recognize the differences between the two. Employees and business owners alike must prepare for unpredictable events by staying vigilant and implementing workplace safety guidelines.

Is Your Business at Risk?
A business owner must recognize if their company could be adversely affected by a hurricane. Obvious signs that a company is in an area that needs to prepare for the high winds and flooding potential of a hurricane include:

  • Operating in a location that hurricanes have damaged
  • Having a building within 50 miles of the Atlantic Ocean coastline or Gulf Coast
    • Keep in mind that some recent hurricanes have gone 100 miles inland
  • Lacking protection against high winds and operating in a flood-prone area

Any business that meets these criteria should generate a plan for hurricane preparedness. It is crucial to start preparations before the hurricane season gets underway.

What is Business Hurricane Preparedness?
Business hurricane preparedness is a mitigation plan that protects one’s business from loss of life, physical damage, and digital losses in a company setting. As such, the threat mitigation methods are diverse in nature and require varying degrees of expertise.

Unfortunately, implementing such plans requires knowledge and resources that some businesses are unwilling to spare, despite evidence demonstrating that preparation ultimately results in better outcomes.

Nevertheless, it is helpful to break down business hurricane preparedness into two different action plans: physical and cyber strategies.

Physical Property Preparation
The best place to start hurricane preparedness is by implementing physical protection against hurricanes. Both passive and reactive elements of property protection exist. For example, companies can install wind-rated windows and shutters to have protection against high winds. Business owners should also purchase fitted plywood to prevent debris from breaking windows when a hurricane is imminent.

It is essential to have supplies and plans to install them on standby rather than attempting to obtain them in the lead-up to a storm; workers should spend time preparing to evacuate instead of having to spend time trying to save the business from damage.

Another critical thing to do is protect the doors leading into the business as doors are a structural weakness that water and wind can damage and allow the weather to impact the interior.

These physical shields for a company are essential, but it is also necessary to be proactive about changing the location of office furniture and computers when a hurricane is imminent. Often, it is best to store computers off-site during a hurricane or at least move them along with the rest of the office furniture away from windows to prevent potential damage. An interior room without windows is often best.

Creating physical protection for a business is to facilitate a fast reopening once the danger has passed. The less time a company must close, the lower its revenue losses.

Digital Data Backups
A business must also consider its digital products when facing a hurricane threat. A hurricane’s high winds can displace physical workplaces, often destroying computers and digital media devices. Since many businesses use computers to operate and save valuable customer data, it is necessary to protect such information.

Using cloud services to store information and secure physical and digital backups of data by implementing a 3-2-1 plan can prevent total data loss.

Some businesses that cannot afford any downtime can also prepare an off-site location that will activate in an emergency, so its workers can pick up where they left off without danger. These plans are some of the more difficult ones to implement because of the required knowledge and resources.

Not Every Business Can Prepare Alone
Unfortunately, not every business is equipped to handle the threat of a hurricane on its own. For that reason, it is wise to obtain help in the preparation phase.

Most of the protection can be installed for physical preparedness right now, except for the pre-cut wood for the windows. Physical preparation is straightforward in many cases.

In terms of digital data backups, it is best to work with managed services providers (MSPs) to get help preparing for computer downtime. MSPs can help a business establish its backups or off-site facilities to preserve business continuity in a hurricane threat.

Such relationships between businesses and MSPs are best created long before a hurricane threat emerges.

Timeliness When Reacting to Hurricane Threats
When a hurricane threat appears, the safety of the employees is paramount. That is why every business affected by a hurricane should create an emergency safety and continuity plan or seek help in generating one.

To maintain employee safety and to prepare your business, do the following:

  1. Closely follow the forecast for a hurricane
  2. Create and use an evacuation checklist and bring up your preparedness level when a potential threat is announced
  3. Know when to act. When a hurricane watch has been issued, implement your plan to the best of your ability. When a hurricane warning is issued, employees should be long gone.

You can always roll back your preparations if the storm misses; it is better to be prepared than not.

Starting now, every potentially affected business should:

  • Determine your threat level and plan for an emergency event
  • Inform stakeholders of their responsibilities in the face of an impending storm
  • Communicate quarterly with third-party companies that provide backup protection services
  • Continually prioritize the wellbeing of employees over the business structure; insurance can cover property losses, but lives are more important

Hopefully, these plans never need to be implemented, but it is necessary to be ready.

About WheelHouse IT
WheelHouse IT is a Managed Services Provider (MSP) with offices in Florida, New York, and California. The MSP provides a hurricane tracker, preparation materials, and services to help its clients get back on their feet following powerful storms. If you have questions about hurricane preparedness for your business, the team at WheelHouse IT can be reached at (877) 771-2384 x 2 or via email at storm@wheelhouseit.com. You can also check out their Hurricane Resource Center at www.wheelhouseit.com/storm.

SOURCE: WheelHouse IT

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