The 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season has begun. The National Weather Service (NWS) is predicting a slightly below-normal season with thirteen named storms, five hurricanes and two major hurricanes.Yet, even a below-normal season is something that needs to be prepared for. These storms can cause catastrophic damage to coastlines and several hundred miles inland. Winds can exceed 155 miles per hour. Not only this, but hurricanes and tropical storms can also spawn tornadoes and micro bursts, create storm surges along the coast, and cause extensive damage from heavy rainfall.
Hurricane Season – Steps to Prepare Now:
- Establish written hurricane protective procedures for the business property and its contents.
- Create contingency plans that cover the possibility of not being able to access your facilities and systems for an extended period of time.
- Inform essential staff of their specific responsibilities under the established procedures.
- Realize that dealing with personal issues, power outages, and transportation systems closures could significantly impact the availability of your employees. Understand the parameters that will shut down or impede public transportation.
- Increase awareness of the evacuation routes and community shelters around your facilities.
- Establish a primary and alternate means of communicating with your employees, critical vendors, business partners and customers. Make sure that these systems and protocols are well understood and tested.
- Make sure that you have “premium” generator diesel fuel supply contracts from diversified vendors.
- Improve the protection of fuel pumps, electrical equipment, communications equipment, etc.
- Review your data and digital communications resilience: include multiple internet service providers, dual fiber, cable, T1 lines, etc.
- Confirm that your IT systems and data backup procedures are comprehensive and current.
- Make sure that your technology recovery services provider is located at a suitable distance from your primary operations so as not to be impacted by the same event.
- Ensure that your staff is trained on proper shutdown procedures and conduct a full shutdown exercise.
- Help your staff develop family preparedness protocols which include a communications and reunification plan.
Steps When the Hurricane is Imminent:
- Relocate files, boxes, computers, office machines and other equipment to the innermost portion of the building or a safer location.
- Elevate boxes or equipment off the ground floor
- Remove contents of lower file cabinet drawers on the ground floor of the building and secure contents elsewhere.
- Disconnect all electrical appliances and equipment, except for refrigeration.
- Cover merchandise, office machines, specialized equipment, file cabinets, copy machines, computer terminals, etc. with tarpaulins or plastic sheeting and secure with sturdy tape.
- Close all windows and draw blinds or drapes.
Hurricanes pose a serious threat to people and property. Losses can be diminished by following some simple steps. Understand the threat, develop a response plan for disruptions, and prepare ahead of time. The absolute worst time to prepare for a hurricane is when it is only a couple of days from impacting you.
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Written by Mike Jennings, VP of Advisory Services
Mike leads the Assurance Advisory Services team. During his more than 26 years of business continuity management, disaster recovery and enterprise risk management experience, he has mentored clients and helped them solve their program needs. Mike has worked extensively with clients throughout the world on their BCM programs, including their underlying incident management and crisis management programs.