Has your business taken the steps that you need toward hurricane preparedness? The destruction caused by natural disasters continues to increase in frequency and severity. In the last decade alone, we’ve witnessed a rising number of hurricanes, earthquakes, and other extreme weather events. These events can cause substantial financial losses for businesses of all kinds regardless of size. 

In this blog post, we discuss the importance of hurricane preparedness for small businesses. We also outline the common challenges small businesses face when preparing for natural disasters and explain how you can be better prepared for future disasters.

What is Hurricane Preparedness?

The term hurricane preparedness is used to describe measures an organization takes to protect itself from the potential effects of a hurricane, such as installing physical hurricane shutters on a business location or making contingency plans for its workforce.  

Hurricane preparedness for a small business is about making sure your business is ready for hurricanes, especially if one of them happens to hit your area. Preparing for a hurricane can help you recover from one and reduce the likelihood of another one in the future.

Why is it Important to Be Hurricane Prepared?

As the climate changes, so do the frequency, severity, and cost of repairs of many types of extreme weather events. Hurricanes are one of the most extreme types of weather events and can cause extensive property damage and economic losses. When a hurricane approaches a community, it’s important to know what steps to take to protect your business, employees, and customers by increasing preparedness.

Small Businesses Face Unique Challenges in Preparing for a Disaster

Small businesses are often unable to create enough emergency plans, risk assessments, and schedules of operations to cover all of their risks like corporations with more resources are able to. They may not have the resources to quickly and effectively respond to disasters, which can put them at a distinct disadvantage when compared to large corporations. 

Additionally, many small businesses also don’t have the experience and skills to assess their risks and put plans in place to protect their business from potential disasters. This is often the case with small businesses owned by people who did not grow up in the area where their business operates. A lack of familiarity with hurricanes and other major weather events means that business leaders are less likely or less effective at developing specific disaster recovery plans.

Small Business Strategies for Hurricane Preparedness

The best way to prepare is to know what you are preparing for. You can’t be prepared for everything. Start with an assessment of your own business and identify where you want to improve your preparedness. 

What are the major risks to your business? Every business faces risk from regional problems, such as weather, supply shortages, and other issues. Look for the ones that your business is most likely to face in the area where it operates. Begin your planning there. 

Once you’ve identified where you want to improve, you can use small business strategies to get there. For example, the first step is to identify your business’s unique risks and start building an emergency response plan. Then you can create an operational plan to make sure that your employees have the right training and equipment to respond in the event of a disaster. Finally, you can build a financial-planning plan that ensures that your business will be able to bounce back afterward.

Key Steps for Small Businesses to Be Hurricane Prepared

The key to any preparedness is having a plan. You can’t be ready for everything. So, starting with an assessment and a plan of attack is a great way to prepare. Here are some key steps to consider:

Identify Your Unique Risks

Every business’s emergency response plan will be different because each business faces its own set of risks and priorities. There are many different kinds of risks, including natural disasters, fires, terrorism, and power outages. Your business needs to identify the risks specific to your industry and local community. 

Additionally,  you need to consider the type of physical location and workforce. If your business has outdoor furniture, for instance, this will need to be secured. You should also consider the kind of customers you may have and the kind of services you provide. 

Once you’ve identified your risks, start building an emergency response plan that covers all of your business’s risks and priorities.

Create an Emergency Response Plan

Once you assess your business’s unique risks and priorities, it’s time to create an emergency response plan. Make this plan in writing and include a checklist for every aspect of what should happen during a disaster.

The plan should include information about every key step in the disaster response process. This includes who is responsible for completing each step, what you need, and what the steps are. For example, your hurricane response plan should identify a checklist of everything that needs to happen before, during, and after a hurricane strikes.

The focus of your emergency response plan for a hurricane should ensure that you quickly address and communicate about problems encountered during the storm. Problems encountered with staff or clients are likely to compound over time if not dealt with immediately.

Having an emergency response plan will help your business protect itself in the event of a hurricane. Once you develop the emergency response plan, it will serve as a guide to your employees and the community. It will help your organization respond to disasters and become more sustainable after a disaster. You need to make sure that everyone on your team understands what staff must do and what gear you need, so they know how to prepare when they see a storm approach.

Create a Continuity Plan

A continuity plan for your business will create a template for how your team will continue to operate during a disaster. Creating a continuity plan is important because it keeps everyone on the team on the same page and also helps to ensure that everyone knows what they need to do at any given time when a disaster strikes.

The continuity plan should contain details about the roles and responsibilities of each team member. Additionally, it should include procedures that explain how your team will respond to a disaster, including how they will communicate with their employees, clients, and community members when a disaster occurs.

The continuity plan should also include information about your business’s IT system and data storage. This way your team can quickly access these systems in the event of an emergency. If a hurricane unexpectedly hits your area, you don’t want to lose essential data or put yourself at risk for cyber-attacks.

Practice Your Plans 

If at all possible, put your plans to the test. Being thrown into an emergency without preparation often throws your staff into chaos. Run through your plan in practice so that your staff understands what to do and can execute it flawlessly every time. 

Update Your Plans

When you find problems in how your staff executes your plans, update your plans accordingly. One of the biggest problems that companies face is letting their plans become dated and ineffective over time. Review and update your plans regularly to make sure that they are still an effective option. 

Stay Accessible to Customers By Hiring an Answering Service

When a tornado or hurricane causes power outages, internet outages, or other problems, your customers may lose access to your products or services, and your customer service team. 

If this occurs, hiring an answering service may help you stay accessible to your customers.  An answering service can help you with answering the phone during the disaster and subsequent recovery period to ensure customers receive continuous support. 

Write and Update a Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan describes your critical systems and processes and how they would function during a disaster. In addition, it outlines how you would recover from the disaster and return to normal operations as quickly as possible.  A business continuity plan helps you prepare for disasters and ensures your critical systems are functioning properly. It gives you an outline of how you’d return to business as soon as possible. 

A business continuity plan can help you prepare for natural disasters. A plan can help you identify potential threats, evaluate your risk, and identify what you can do to minimize that risk.

Keep Records of Your Insurance Coverage, and Plans for Recovery

Business owners often forget to keep records of their insurance coverage, plans, and plans for recovery. This can be a disaster in and of itself since it’s unclear what you have covered and what you may have missed.  Make sure you don’t miss anything by keeping records of everything related to your insurance coverage, plans, and recovery. This can help you identify what you may have missed and ensure you don’t miss anything.

Contact Answer Aide to Learn More

A telephone answering service can make it easier for your business during a hurricane or other natural disaster. Since our representatives are not local to the disaster, they can answer customer calls even when your facility doesn’t have internet or phone service. 

If you’re ready to get started with a professional answering service, we’re here to help. Contact Answer Aide by calling (866) 427-3500 or by filling out our online form. We’re happy to partner with you to support your business while it grows.