Hurricane Dorian is now a Category 3 hurricane, with winds of 115 miles per hour (mph) as it moves along the southeast coast.
The damage to the Bahamas is already monumental, while the Carolinas brace for what’s to come.
According to score.org, weather-related disasters cost the U.S. economy $91 billion in 2018 alone. And according to FEMA, 40-60% of small businesses that close due to a natural disaster never re-open.
Natural disasters are bad news for everyone, but there are several ways you can prepare your business:
- Outline a response plan.
Before a disaster strikes, develop an emergency response plan.
Train employees on the plan, and run training sessions each year to ensure store employees know the protocols, including evacuation routes and the proper steps for response.
- Review insurance plan.
Review insurance coverage annually, and understand what’s covered and what’s not. Know the process for filing a claim, and keep track of emergency contact numbers.
- Maintain equipment.
Throughout the year, conduct periodic audits of the store to ensure emergency response equipment is operational. Check fire extinguishers, emergency lights, sprinkler systems and alarms for proper functioning. In addition, test emergency backup power regularly.
- Consider a generator.
In Florida, businesses on the evacuation route are required by law to offer backup generators, but for most convenience stores in other parts of Florida and across the U.S., it’s a business decision they have to make, weighing the cost of the generator against the cost of spoiled food and lost business days due to lack of power.
Businesses considering generators have two options: an automatic generator, which works immediately after losing power, or a towable generator, which can be purchased or rented at the risk of arriving too late.
- Secure materials, cover windows.
Keep chemicals secure with controlled dispensing equipment, which can help eliminate the risk of chemical spills during a disaster and reduce the likelihood of fires. Relocate outdoor garbage cans and other materials not bolted to the ground to the inside before shuttering doors and windows.
And as soon as meteorologists identify the emergence of a hurricane or severe weather pattern, work to board windows to decrease the chance of damage.
In addition to communicating plans with employees, it’s important to share your emergency plan with customers and, whenever possible, update them about any delays or inconveniences.