Every day, it seems as though extreme weather events are increasing in frequency. From winter storms that pile on the snow and ice to more flooding, tropical cyclones, wildfires, and earthquakes — it seems like almost every month, some part of the country is being wrecked by these catastrophic events.
Though local governments have a responsibility to protect their people and their cities, businesses, too, must start being more proactive about protecting their assets, including their employees. If your company isn’t prepared, one bad weather event could significantly impact your business, leaving disaster in its wake.
In this article, we’ll offer some tips on how you can better protect your company assets as well as your employees as extreme weather events start to occur more often.
1. Know What Extreme Weather Could Affect Your Business
It’s important that you understand what specific weather events could occur in your area and how they might affect your company. This is rule number one of risk management — know what risks your business might face.
Flooding, for example, is an issue that could affect your company if you are located in a more tropical area or near any bodies of water.
What about extreme heat waves that could knock out your power and put the health and well-being of your employees at risk?
Any of these weather events could severely impact your business and your employees depending on where you are located. So to avoid the potential risks, make sure you are doing your research and understand what extreme weather events could come your way.
2. Create an Emergency Evacuation Plan
A well-thought-out emergency evacuation plan is crucial when it comes to saving the lives of your employees.
A lot of businesses have things written in employee handbooks about what to do in an emergency, or they might have a poster hung up in the break room. But not many businesses physically sit down with their employees to run through an emergency evacuation plan in detail.
If you genuinely want to protect your employees, you must hold regular meetings about what to do in an emergency, what everyone’s role is in emergency situations, who to contact if help is needed, and where they should go to get to safety.
3. Establish Open Channels of Communication
Communication plays a critical role when emergencies happen. So it’s important to make sure that your employees can easily collaborate and communicate with one another in case of an emergency.
Open communication channels will make it much easier for everyone to stay in the know and be able to communicate about what to do should something happen. Communication and collaboration are not just about being productive; it’s also about protecting your employees and potentially saving their lives.
4. Ensure Your Data is Secure
Most companies today have digitized their processes. However, just because your vital and sensitive company data is stored online or on servers does not mean it is safe should an extreme weather emergency occur.
If you have a data center, you should take extra precautions to ensure it is weathertight. Flooding, for example, can be disastrous for data storage centers. Even one small leak can put your data at risk.
So make sure you are considering how you will protect your data should something happen. This includes weatherproofing, covering sensitive equipment, having a plan for shifting data or ensuring it’s backed up, and even looking into backup generators and fuel supplies should you face an extended power outage.
5. Invest in the Right Insurance
Financial protection is also key when it comes to protecting your business. Businesses can easily lose millions of dollars when disaster strikes. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria resulted in $270 billion in losses just in 2017.
So, even if your company already has insurance, you should reevaluate your policy and make sure that it will protect your company if certain extreme weather events should occur. Not all insurance companies and claim operations can cope with these more frequently occurring weather events. So you might need to switch your insurance over to one that can.
6. Prevent Damage Before it Happens
The physical structure of your business is also something to consider.
Resilient design is something that is increasing in popularity as we face a future of more frequent and damaging weather events. And within resilient design, passive survivability is most critical, as it refers to a building’s ability to maintain critical life support for its occupants in an emergency.
Some examples of achieving passive survivability include better insulation, more energy-efficient windows, special roof structures to protect outer walls, advanced ventilation systems, and solar panels to keep things powered in an outage.
When it comes to emergencies, especially extreme weather events, preparation is key. The tips above should help as you evaluate what measures you might need to take to better protect your business assets and your employees should you face a disastrous weather event.