Being from Florida myself, the phrase “hurricane preparedness” is one that in my opinion, will never get old. It’s also a phrase that despite best efforts, will continue to be brushed to the side. The only way to protect yourself, your employees and your business is to make sure that you stay prepared for hurricanes. Houston was rocked by Hurricane Harvey last week and before the floods have even dried up, Hurricane Irma has developed and strengthened from a category 3 to 5 almost overnight, posing a major threat to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and South Florida.
What did we learn from Hurricane Harvey that can benefit us when preparing for Hurricane Irma?
If you have the means to evacuate and you are living in South Florida, now is the time to get out. People don’t want to jump the gun and leave, I understand, but if you take a look at any weather report right now and you see that 7 out of the 9 predicted paths are headed towards you, it’s time to close up shop and hit the road. As a business owner, safety should be your number one priority. Knowing when it’s time to close to ensure that your employees have ample amount of time to pack and get their families to a safer area is very important and also appreciated by your employees.
Even though Houston is 40 miles from the coast of Texas, Hurricane Harvey brought more rain than Texas could handle, resulting in extreme flooding in Houston causing thousands of people to be stranded for days. For areas such as the Florida Keys and areas surrounding Miami that are right on the coast, you can only imagine the amount of damage that will occur if Hurricane Irma keeps its current path.
2. Implement a Work from Home Policy
Instead of trying to squeeze in some extra hours at the office, allow employees to work from home or wherever they are evacuating to. This is going to benefit your business not only during the hurricane, but after as well, especially if extensive damage prevents employees from making their way back to their homes longer than expected. This way, you can ensure that if something needs to get done, you still have a team of people who are able to work on it remotely. This can help to keep business operations up and running rather than costing your company money due to downtime. In addition to having employees working from home, keeping tabs on where employees plan to ride out the storm is also a great way to avoid frantically trying to locate employees after the storm.
3. Keep Supply Kits in the Office
If we learned anything from Hurricane Harvey, it’s that people got stranded not only at home, but at offices as well. Keep supply kits in a floatable and sealable container to ensure that if employees are using the office as a shelter or if they just happen to find themselves stranded there, they have enough supplies for at least a few days – or until help can arrive. Items such as flashlights, charged pre-paid cell phones, food, water, blankets, batteries, and battery powered radios are ideal for an office emergency supply kit.
4. Practice Tabletop Exercises
If your business is located in an area such as North Florida and has some extra time before the hurricane hits, use this time to practice with various tabletop exercises to refresh your memory on the best way to go about handling this type of incident.
To learn more on how to adequately prepare for hurricanes, click here.