For those who live and work in coastal regions, Hurricanes are an unwelcome, yet consistent threat
in the summer and falls months of the year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have
predicted that 2021 will be a particularly active year for hurricanes with a likely range of 13 to
20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74
mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or
Hurricane preparedness is key to staying safe and mitigating damage when a storm hits. A frequently
overlooked part of hurricane safety is the workplace. According to the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA), 40% percent of small businesses that close due to hurricane damage do not reopen. It
is essential for both employers and employees to proactively prepare for unpredictable weather such
as tropical storms and hurricanes. By taking a little initiative and planning ahead of time,
businesses can create procedures to be fully ready in the event of a disastrous storm.
Protect your property
Taking care to prevent the damage a hurricane could
cause will help your business get back up and running as soon as it is safe to return to work. The
following steps will help you protect your property from damage:
Remember to tie down small sheds and outbuildings that have not been designed for heavy
Move all items such as benches, seats, signs, and potted flowers inside that could
potentially blow away in a potent storm. These types of items could become flying debris
during a storm.
Invest in hurricane shutters or plywood to board up windows and doors, protecting them from
Consider having the roof of your building evaluated to see if it would withstand a heavy
Use sandbags to protect doorways or areas subject to flooding.
Brace or anchor large furniture such as bookshelves and filing cabinets.
Move any fragile or valuable items to a safer location until the threat of a hurricane has
Secure water heaters, ac units, and gas tanks, and if possible, move them to higher ground
to avoid water damage.
Turn off pipes carrying flammable liquids such as gas in case of a break during the storm.
Secure your important documents and information
Often, it is secure information and documents that
are most valuable to a business and can be at risk when a hurricane blows through. While most
important information is now available online, there may still be physical documentation that would
be a significant inconvenience to lose.
Define vital contacts to save that are fundamental to business operations, such as banks,
employees, accountants, lawyers, suppliers, etc.
Take time to make copies and back up documents not easily found and produced such as tax
returns, contracts, and statements. Seal any paper documents in waterproof containers.
If possible, move computers and laptops to an alternate, accessible off-site location.
Create a hurricane recovery plan
Once the rain has ceased and the winds have died
down, call all employees to check if all are secure
and safe. The recovery plan should include a list of contacts to call if repairs such as electrical
work, plumbing, mechanical, or landscaping work are needed. Assign or contract individuals who can
help assess any damage and work to clean and tidy any messes that may prevent a timely return to
work. When checking a property for damage make sure to check for:
Safety hazards such as exposed wires, downed lines or trees, leaks, and debris.
Any structural damage to buildings or damaged foundations.
Damaged fire alarm or fire safety equipment.
Ensure all critical production equipment and valuable stock are in working order and
Photograph and/or video any damage in case an insurance claim needs to be filed.
If available, designate a backup location to handle basic business operations if damages are
incurred on the original business site. Finally, keep employees informed and updated on any unsafe
circumstances and projected return to work dates.