Now is the Time to Prepare for a Hurricane

For most of us, one day looks pretty much like the next. We wake up at the same time. We take the same route to work. Maybe we take a coffee break around 10 a.m., followed by lunch at noon.

But what if something interrupts our routine? Not a traffic jam or a flat tire, mind you. Think bigger.

Hurricane season typically runs from June through the end of November. On one end of the severity scale, category 1 hurricanes generate 74 mph winds that damage homes, snap tree branches and cut off power for days. On the other end are category 5 hurricanes. With wind speeds up to 155 mph, they can carve a path of destruction that leaves entire cities uninhabitable for months.

hurricanesYou don’t have to be in the direct path of a hurricane to be affected. Hurricane Ike, for example, caused flooding and downed power lines as far north as Ohio.

With parts of the Lone Star State still recovering from this spring’s flooding, it may be difficult to turn our attention to another potential disaster. But now is the time to prepare your business and your employees to weather a hurricane.

Develop a plan
Some businesses are required to have an emergency action plan meeting the requirements under 29 CFR 1910.38. Even if your business is not required to have a plan, it should. A detailed emergency action plan can help prevent the confusion, chaos and fear that often accompany a disaster.

Practice the plan
Train new hires on emergency procedures, and conduct drills throughout the year to ensure everyone knows what to do if a disaster strikes.

Prepare the job site
Move heavy equipment, materials, tools, vehicles and trailers to secure areas. Stabilize objects that could become airborne in high winds, and make sure exits are clearly marked and not blocked.

Stock up
Make sure you have plenty of batteries, flashlights, fuel for emergency generators and chainsaws (in case you need to cut through debris), and supplies that are critical to your operations. Some employees may have to ride out the storm on site. Explain evacuation routes and secure locations, and give them an adequate supply of food, water, radios, first-aid kits and other survival basics.

Get back to business
Your employees’ safety should be your priority during an emergency. But remember that up to 40 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster, according to the American Red Cross. Develop a plan for getting your business back in business.

Consider core business functions that have to be in place as you work toward full recovery. And don’t forget to include communication in your plan. Know exactly how you will notify your employees when they should return to work and your customers when you are ready to serve them.

Understand your insurance coverage
Review your windstorm, flood and business interruption insurance policies. Find out what they cover, what they don’t cover and what your deductible is. If you have questions, ask your insurance agent.

Get more information

OSHA’s hurricane preparedness Web page

National Weather Service


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