Lessons from Sandy: How to Protect Your Business

2006hurricane-damage-commercial-business_ibhs109Earlier this week, New York City Mayor Bloomberg unveiled a plan to make New York City more resilient for future storms and rebuild the communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Seven months since the storm hit the region, the plan calls for, among other suggested projects, enhancement of the city’s building codes to strengthen new and improved buildings to meet higher standards, and encourage retrofits of existing buildings.

As the region continues its recovery from Hurricane Sandy, and the rest of the country prepares for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, IBHS would like to provide 10 lessons learned from Hurricane Sandy to businesses on how they too can be resilient and bounce back from the next storm.

1. The Next Storm Won’t Be Like The Last.

Every storm has unique meteorological, geographic, and timing characteristics that influence how it affects businesses and homes. This means that business owners in hurricane-prone areas must prepare their buildings to better withstand both high winds and flooding, since you never know how the next storm will affect your community.

2. Business Continuity Planning Is Vital.

The most effective way to prevent a lengthy disruption for your business is to plan for the possibility that your facility may be damaged, experience a lengthy power outage, or be located in an area that is not accessible due to road closures or other infrastructure problems. Take advantage of IBHS’s free, easy-to-use business continuity toolkit, OFB-EZ, for small- and medium- sized businesses, to put your plan together today.

3. Employees Need Their Own Disaster Plans.

As important as it is for businesses to have continuity plans in place, it is equally important for you to encourage employees to have their own emergency preparedness plans. Create a plan right on your phone using the Know Your Plan app. Know Your Plan, which can be used on iPhone, iPad and iTouch, was developed by the Insurance Information Institute, and features property protection guidance from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). The app is available at iTunes, or by searching “Insurance Information Institute” in the App store from any iPhone.

 4. Involve Your Employees In Your Business Disaster Planning.

Employees want to know, “What do you expect of me?” Educate your employees about your business continuity plan and train them in their areas of responsibility. Seize opportunities, such as during staff meetings, to periodically remind them about the plan and your expectations. When severe weather is threatening, make sure all employees have information about their role in keeping your business open. Read more about How To Get Your Employees Prepared.

5. Keep A Strong Roof Over Your Head.commercial-roof-damage_IBHS

The roof is your business’ first line of defense against hurricanes and other disasters, but is also its greatest vulnerability. Every day, the roof is exposed to weather and other elements that may contribute to decay and deterioration, which increase the risk of damage in an event like Sandy. Getting the roof right starts with choosing the right type of design, selecting the right materials, and following proper installation practices at the time of construction or when remodeling. Read more about Protecting Your Roof.

 6. Strengthen Your Buildings With The Best Materials and Design.

Small business owners who want to stay in business and quickly recover from catastrophes like Sandy should utilize stronger, safer structures. Carefully following high-wind construction guidance can produce significantly stronger, safer buildings. Learn more about strengthening your business’ structure through the Fortified for Safer Business® program.

7. Plan And Prepare For Flooding.

It is always a best practice to locate property far away from bodies of water, but if your business must be near water, the building must be elevated. Find additional ways you can Protect Your Business From Flooding.

commercial-generator8. Buy A Generator For Your Business.

Power outages from an event like Sandy can last many days, or even weeks. A generator can enable you to continue operating some or all of your electronic equipment and lights, preserve perishables, and make conditions more comfortable for your employees – all of which minimizes business interruption. Learn more about the purchase, operation and maintenance of Commercial Generators.

9. Protect Your Equipment, Inventory, Records And People When A Storm Is Approaching.

Heed weather reports and local official’s orders and take action to protect your property and your employees when a storm is forecast for your area. This includes installing shutters, plywood, or panels within 24 hours of an impending storm. Ensure the necessary materials, tools and labor power are on site in order to do so. Make sure gutters are running freely and extend and redirect downspouts. Move electronics, documents and inventory from any crawlspace or basement, where flooding is possible.

10. Test And Retest Plans.

Practice makes perfect, or at a minimum, increases the odds that planning will work as expected during a real disaster. Actively involve employees in evacuation drills and periodic tests of your business continuity plan, your back-up equipment and generators. Read more about how to get your Employees Involved in Disaster Preparations.

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