Whatever part of the country your business is in, severe weather can impact your operations throughout the year. Consider these statistics on severe weather from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):
- About 1,200 tornadoes hit the U.S. each year.
- 100,000 thunderstorms occur each year in the U.S. and 10% reach severe levels.
- Damaging winds are classified as those exceeding 50-60 mph.
- In the U.S., floods kill more people each year than tornadoes, hurricanes or lightning.
Hurricanes are another cause for concern for many businesses. For the 2022 hurricane season, NOAA has forecasted 6 to 10 hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher) and 3 to 6 major hurricanes. Find more tips for hurricane preparedness here.
Because severe weather can happen anywhere throughout the year, it is important to take the time to create a plan for any extreme weather that might come your way. Here are seven steps you can take to help prepare for an extreme weather event.
Building a severe weather plan
Preparing for severe weather takes a combination of planning, emergency equipment, team training and exercise drills. Here are some quick tips to help you prepare:
- Set up an emergency action plan. Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends including:
- An evacuation policy
- Emergency escape procedures and route assignments, such as workplace maps noting refuge areas
- Names and telephone numbers of important individuals within and outside your business
- Procedures for employees to perform or shut down operations
- Rescue and medical duties for any workers
- Ensure all employee contact numbers are current so everyone can be accounted for in an emergency.
- Designate a severe weather shelter. Notify staff of its location and post signage for customers. If your business does not have a shelter, locate a storm shelter nearby or consider sending employees home before severe weather hits.
- Implement a communication system to notify employees to evacuate, take shelter or take other actions.
- Store originals or duplicate copies of accounting records, legal documents, your employees’ emergency contact lists and other essential records in a secure location.
- Compile a kit to be taken into the shelter that includes:
- Emergency blankets
- First aid kit
- Battery powered radio
- Hold training sessions and practice emergency drills with staff to ensure everyone understands the emergency process.
After severe weather, safety risks can remain. Be especially careful of:
- Damaged roadways
- Nonfunctioning traffic signals
- Flash flooding
- Fallen tree limbs
- Downed power lines
- Debris with nails and glass and more
Depending on the amount of damage, structural, electrical or fire hazards may exist. Make sure everyone is accounted for and sheltering in a safe area and continue monitoring emergency weather bulletins.
Protecting your business against severe weather
Severe weather can be worrisome and costly. But with the right severe weather plan, you can protect your employees and customers. And with the right business insurance, your building and property can be protected, too.
Contact Lockton Affinity to learn more about insurance designed for your franchise.