As forecasts call for Hurricane Irene to impact the U.S. East Coast, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety offers small and mid-size business owners a checklist to help prepare for and recover from the storm.
Specific steps that can be taken to help minimize the storm’s impact on businesses include:
1. Take pictures of your property and office. 2. Get updated contact information from all employees. Find out where your employees plan on going if evacuated. 3. Know where you will temporarily be located if unable to return to your place of business and how you will communicate the relocation to employees, customers and vendors. 4. Know what your customers will expect from you during and after the hurricane. Make sure you have a plan in place to communicate with them. 5. Make sure you have your key vendors' contact information and if time allows, find out the vendors' plans to continue servicing you during and after the hurricane. 6. Have a battery-operated radio and spare batteries to ensure you can receive emergency information. 7. Obtain sufficient flashlights and other battery powered lights to allow essential work to be conducted in the event of a power outage. 8. Decide what critical items must be removed from your business. 9. Identify essential business records that should be removed from the property and determine where you plan to take them. Check your backup plan to make sure everything is backed up correctly. Protect the backup copy along with your other essential records. 10. With possible power loss, unplug noncrucial electrical equipment being left behind to avoid shock and surges when power is restored. Move them to a well-protected interior room on floors above the level of potential flooding. 11. Fill vehicle fuel tanks. Fuel may not be available during hurricane evacuation activities. 12. Identify outside equipment and furnishings that could be blown loose and may cause damage in hurricane winds, such as outside merchandise, trash cans, signs, awnings, antennas and tools. 13. Ensure that backup personnel know how to turn off electrical power, water, gas and other utility services within your building at main switches.
“Catastrophes are not selective on who they affect. They affect homeowners and business owners alike," said Gail Moraton, business resiliency manager, IBHS. “But when a business is shut down by a storm, the owner losses his or her livelihood and the community loses a business. Taking steps now to prepare will improve a business’ chance of not just re-opening, but also remaining open.”
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