If you live in Texas, or really anywhere in proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, August is the time when hurricane predictions start to ramp up. Data shows that a hurricane affects the Texas coast every three years on average, and with Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017, the claims are unfortunately true: we are due for another hurricane this summer. Preparing your office space for an oncoming natural disaster can be a stressful, yet necessary task. With careful planning, your business can withstand whatever nature throws in your direction.
First off, you need to consult your rolodex (phone contacts for those of you too young to remember a rolodex) and find a connection who understands corporate risk management. There are many assets in a business that need to be properly handled, and each one must be addressed. When it comes to the safety and security of your company resources, it’s better to consult an expert rather than trying to do it yourself. A consultant will be able to conduct a thorough threat analysis and walk through your space to advise safety precautions.
If your business is located in Houston, it would be wise to acquire flood insurance. This may seem obvious, but many business owners choose to put off getting flood insurance because it doesn’t seem like a top priority in the moment. This is a big mistake. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that when a natural disaster occurs, almost 40% of the small businesses in that area will never reopen. This is because without insurance, water damage in an office building—even if it is less than a foot of flooding—can end up costing tens of thousands of dollars to fix. Keeping the livelihood of you and your employees protected is worth the investment.
Important documents, files, and records need to be safeguarded at all costs. Storing your files within a central room of your building is a good start in general. That way, if a projectile comes through a window or wall in your perimeter rooms, your documents will not be affected. Fireproof filing cabinets are also a good idea. Fireproof cabinets are made of reinforced steel, so they are much heavier and harder to damage. They obviously protect your documents from flames, and most are water resistant, so sprinklers and hoses will not cause harm either. Unfortunately, they are not waterproof, so contents will get wet in the event of a flood. Luckily, you can back up files in the form of off-site paper copies and cloud servers. If you have not done so already, make sure to upload all your records onto a virtual platform. It is important to make sure this is a common occurrence, and not just a one-time upload. You never know for sure when a natural disaster will strike, and if you do not have enough time to scan and upload your documents, they may be lost forever. To ensure this does not happen, appoint a member of your team to be in charge of file uploads on a weekly basis. Also consider using an offsite location to store copies of your company records. With something as crucial as business documents, you can never have too many alternate storage options.
If your business cannot be conducted remotely, you need a contingency plan. Finding a temporary place to conduct business in case of building damage can be tricky, especially with short notice. It is ALWAYS a good idea to have an experienced move consultant on hand and apprised of your business’ needs: in case of emergency, move consultants are connected to a whole network of people who can provide assistance in getting your workplace up and running as quickly as possible. Take the time to speak with a move consultant and make preparations for a speedy transition, and give yourself peace of mind by making sure your business can continue running despite setbacks from a natural disaster. Being proactive with your company’s disaster preparedness plan will help keep your operations safe on a rainy day (pun intended).
Preparing your business for the prospect of a natural disaster requires a lot of time, effort, and research. We hope this information helps kickstart your own disaster plan. Valuable resources are available to educate readers about Hurricane Preparedness, such as the 2020 Hurricane Guide released by the National Weather Service. Check it out!