The Best Business Continuity Tips for Hurricane Season eBook
What should you do before, during, and after a hurricane to keep your business running? Learn the best business continuity tips for hurricane season by reading this free eBook!
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To help you get ready for this year’s hurricane season, we crowd-sourced the best hurricane season preparedness tips from other professionals in the business continuity industry, and the results were astounding. We received a lot of feedback from your enthusiastic peers on everything from planning, to communication, to asking for help.
We’re so excited to share these tips with you so you can better protect your business for this year’s hurricane season in this comprehensive hurricane tip list. Make sure you read through this list before the storm is at your location(s) to help save time, money, and even human lives.
Before the Storm
Some of the most important business continuity tips for hurricane season are for before the storm arrives. Preparedness is a key step in minimizing impact for almost all severe weather events. Go through these tips to give you organization the best chance this hurricane season.
1. Go Over Last Year’s Plans
The first step in preparing your business for hurricane season is planning. A strong plan needs to be in place before a storm hits.
To kick-start this plan, you should have a meeting with your organization to go over last year’s season. Ask yourself and your team the following questions:
- What worked well?
- What did not?
It also helps to bring in experts for this conversation to answer any questions your coworkers may have. Meteorologists are always a great bet. This way you can go over best practices and figure out what training might be necessary to prepare.
2. Know Your Zones
Since hurricanes come with driving rains and storm surges, they often produce floods. Before hurricane season hits, research your organization’s properties and identify if any of them are in flood zones.
If you know beforehand, you can automatically cut any losses by preparing for floods. Some things you can do include moving any company vehicles to areas outside of flood zones.
You can use this tip for indoors as well. Be sure to remove any critically important documents or infrastructure before the storm hits. It’s helpful to identify a person or people who will carry out this duty in the case of an impending hurricane.
3. Stock Supplies
Regardless of your business type, you’re going to need some essential supplies to help you get through a hurricane. With hurricane speeds just beginning at 75 mph, power outages are regular occurrences and can last weeks.
It’s key to have battery-powered lights, radios, and other electronics on-hand so you can stay in the light and in the know. A generator (and fuel) is an important tool that will keep your business powered in the event of a long-term outage.
We also recommend stockpiling the following:
- First-aid kits
- Duct tape
- Bottles of water
- Garbage bags
- Rain gear.
4. Prepare Your Property
You should also prepare your property. Depending on your location(s), you might want to have sandbags and plywood on hand to protect your buildings. This is also a good time to check property for any roof damage, cracked windows, or dead limbs.
One great tip from Betsy Cody, IT DR Coordinator at Diamond Drugs Inc., is to measure and cut your plywood ahead of time and have them in an easily accessible location. Trust us, when a major hurricane is on the way, you’ll be thankful for this timesaving tip!
Make sure you move any HVAC and electrical equipment out of flood zones. This includes items like pumps and storm water control features that could become inundated in a storm.
You should also move items indoors. For example, if your business is a restaurant, ensure all outdoor seating, tables, and signs are moved indoors to a designated storage area ahead of the storm.
During the Storm
Once the storm arrives, it’s a whole different ballgame. With no time left to prepare, these tips for hurricanes in progress will still help you minimize downtime and increase safety during storms this hurricane season.
1. Communicate Communicate, Communicate!
Communication and collaboration were two of the most common types of tips we received from business continuity professionals this year. Especially in large businesses.
Tyler Hough, Director of Business Continuity at Walgreens, had a great story to share from the 2017 hurricane season. He explained how a lead from each of the functional businesses came together to help solve the problems hurricane season threw their way. They found that as soon as people ran into a wall within their own silo of business, there were others that could help break down that wall. By working a problem from end-to-end, they realized that they were more effective and efficient.
For example, after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, they knew they needed to get their facilities team on the ground to assess the damage. However, no commercial flights were operating. Luckily, the community affairs team had already been working on sending down humanitarian supplies through a major airline. By working together, they were able to get the team on board as well.
No matter the size of your organization, it’s essential to communicate with members of the workforce following a significant event. You should have a pre-defined emergency communication plan. Since hurricane damage can impact both data and cell service, you should have multiple ways of keeping in touch. Your organization should have updated cell phone numbers, a temporary social media page, personal email addresses and designated physical check-in locations in case cellular and landlines go down.
When you use multiple channels for communication, it’s key to have one person handling the communication so employees don’t receive conflicting or mis-aligned information. Make sure you have a communication plan that includes who will communicate what and when.
2. Utilize Meteorologists and Other Weather Tools
As we see every hurricane season, local and national news outlets tend to hype up storms. This leads to a lot of misinformation and it also makes everyday people think they are weather experts. We hate to break it to you, but only meteorologists have the strongest grasp of what’s going on when it comes to hurricane season.
Because of that, it’s imperative to consult meteorologists when hurricanes and other tropical events threaten your business. Expert tropical storm meteorologists will not only have the best forecast, but will also understand the potential impact to your area. This is even more true when it comes to meteorologists that use hyperlocal, real-time weather data to guide their clients through hurricane season.
After the Storm
Dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane can be shocking and confusing. These tips will help you return to normal as quickly as possible.
1. Be Flexible
Becky Cohen, Director of Business Continuity at BBX Capital and one of our Honorable Mention recipients put it best:
“Plans and checklists are important, but no storm will be like the last one; No flood or fire will have the same recovery.”
As business continuity professionals, it’s your job to live outside the box and have all the answers. When your plan no longer contains the answers your business requires to get back on track, you have to make them up as you go.
When it comes to hurricane season, you really must plan well beforehand and then be on your toes throughout in order to be the most valuable asset to your organization. Planning is important, but realizing the plan isn’t enough is much more important! Flexibility is key when planning return to work schedules, job duties, and crisis management roles.
2. Understand Your Social Infrastructure List
Your property restoration company of choice will have numerous clients to pick from and limited labor resources to support them. Unless you have a solid contractual agreement in place, create response redundancies. Credit card and debit card transactions may not be immediately available; cash reserves and partnering with your financial institution on cash access is a wise decision.
Depending upon the level of catastrophe, expect long lines for basics like water, fuel, and medications. This will affect your employees which ultimately limits your business recovery efforts. Don’t forget to implement an interim payroll process as well.
3. Ask for Help
Something that many businesses fail to do after a hurricane is ask for help. Asking for help can make a huge difference in returning to business as usual.
One of our contest participants recommended leveraging business relationships to help your team recover. Utilize business partners remote from the disaster zone to help with things like equipment rentals, food and water shipments, off-site work staging areas, and more. Your supply chain, customers, and organization will greatly benefit from a strong support system.
4. Remember Your Employees
Michael Garza, Business Continuity Professional at Toyota Motors North America and our contest winner put it best when he said:
“People first. Your ability to recover from a disaster rests highly on your employees. Share your plans with everyone after your meeting and solicit ideas often.”
The best strategies always involve sincere consideration of what employees and their families are experiencing. Oftentimes, businesses can forget the personal impact of a hurricane on their employees. Mandatory and voluntary evacuations can scatter employees, making it harder for them to return to work.
After a storm, first ensure your employees are stable, then transition priorities towards recovery. You may have to be flexible with teleworking or remote employee situations for weeks or even months after a hurricane.
How We Can Help
Having the right weather services and tools can help you before, during, and after a hurricane hits. Most comprehensive hurricane preparedness solutions have the following services included.
Proven Meteorological Expertise
When a hurricane strikes, you need personalized meteorological advice–not what you hear on the news.
Here at Earth Networks, we have a team with expert meteorologists ready 24/7/365 to help clients before, during, and after a hurricane. Our dedicated staff has over 100 years of combined experience in the industry.
Their expertise will help your organization navigate the constantly changing forecasts, hurricane classifications, and spaghetti plots so you know you’re making the best operational decisions possible.
Real-Time Hyperlocal Weather Data
We helped dozens of organizations through hurricanes with our real-time, hyperlocal weather data.
Unlike other weather forecast providers, Earth Networks owns and operates our own network of weather and lightning sensors. With over 17,500 weather stations, there’s always a station close by so you have the most accurate weather data.
Most meteorologists gather weather data from your nearest airport where conditions can vary greatly from your actual location. When it comes to hurricanes and other forms of potentially devastating severe weather, planning tools driven by hyperlocal weather data are the only way to go.
Another great way we enable our business continuity professionals to make the best operational decisions during hurricane season is with on-the-go alerting. With Sferic Connect, our advanced weather visualization and altering application, it’s easy for professionals to set up alerts for their organizational locations as well as their own location, no matter where you go! This is key when hurricanes force evacuations.
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