PEARL – Businesses should begin taking precautions and prepare for hurricane season now.
Many people think that only businesses located along the Gulf Coast will be affected by tropical weather. Most forget that inland businesses could be affected by power outages, debris and flooding, and also if coastal businesses and suppliers have to stop production or temporarily close.
“Businesses play a huge role in disaster recovery,” said MEMA Director Robert Latham. “We know that the private sector has learned a lot about disasters, but having a plan for employees and business operations before and after the storm are essential to keep their communities moving forward following a hurricane. The faster local businesses can reopen after an event, the faster an affected community will begin its recovery.”
Business owners should develop a recovery plan for their business by taking the following precautions:
- Include emergency preparedness information in company newsletters, company intranet, employee emails or other company communication tools.
- Consider a telephone calling tree or a voice recording to communicate with employees during an emergency.
- Designate an out-of-town number where employees can leave an, “I’m okay” message during a catastrophic disaster.
- If you have employees with disabilities or special needs, talk with them about what their needs may be during a disaster.
- Plan for payroll continuity.
- Review and practice what you and your employees intend to do during and after an emergency.
- Establish facility shutdown procedures.
- Establish warning and evacuation procedures.
- Make plans for assisting employees who may need transportation.
- Make plans for communicating with employees’ families before and after a hurricane.
- Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and battery backup.
- Survey your facility. Make plans to protect outside equipment and structures.
- Check if your phone system will work without electricity. If not, have at least one phone line that can operate without electricity.
- Make plans to protect windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection. Covering windows with plywood is a second option.
- Consider the need for backup systems such as portable pumps to remove floodwater and generators to provide emergency power.
- Prepare to move records, computers and other items within your facility or to another location.
- Consider how to recover any digital data if there is a significant power outage or if computers and servers are damaged. Keep tax and payroll records, records of inventory and essential information at an alternate site.
- Establish an alternate operating location and back-up suppliers.
- Maintain three to five days of inventory. If a disaster occurs, the loss isn’t as great.
Gov. Phil Bryant declared May 27-31 as Hurricane Preparedness Week.
For more information about emergency preparedness, visit www.msema.org.
The public is encouraged to follow MEMA on Twitter and Facebook for updates.