This year’s hurricane season has a “near average” forecast. But don’t let this description fool you – many near average seasons have cost businesses and homeowners billions of dollars.

As previously discussed, 2011 was technically average, but that did not stop Hurricane Irene from touching down and causing more than $14 billion in damage. That is why hurricane alerts, and specifically hurricane communications for business, are necessary to ensure the safety of your employees and your organization.

Potential For Damage

Hurricanes are capable of wreaking more havoc than just tearing off roofs and breaking windows. For example, when Hurricane Harvey hit the area near Houston, Texas, in 2017, the flooding exposed several flaws in the city’s infrastructure. In nearby Crosby, rising floodwaters also impacted the Arkema Inc. chemical plant, causing major explosions, evacuations, environmental harm and multiple lawsuits.

In a recent AlertFind webinar, disaster preparedness expert Joe Trainor discussed what owners and risk managers can do to ensure their businesses survive the various types of hurricane damage and how hurricane alerts can minimize injuries and claims.

Trainor, the program director of the Disaster Science and Management program and an associate professor of public policy and administration at the University of Delaware, said long-term planning is key to a company’s financial, physical and operational survival.

“Envision a power loss but think beyond simply needing a power generator,” he said. “You need to plan for loss of infrastructure. You may lose phone and internet access, for example. If a building is damaged, then customers and employees may not be able to arrive and you might not be able to receive supplies. Can you survive? And for how long?”

Critical Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Trainor provided three critical, but often-overlooked, tips to consider when planning:

  1. Help employees prepare their homes. After the storm passes, you’ll want your employees to return to work, but if they’re tending to damaged homes, that may not happen so quickly.“Consider hosting a workshop in your business on household level preparedness,” Trainor said. “Some companies incentivize their employees to purchase home preparedness kits with bonuses or even compensation. And some companies even provide some services directly – employers that have feeding facilities like cafeterias can utilize them; others might offer daycare support. Providing an environment that helps the employee meet the needs of their job can be part of your business planning.”
  1. Have extra operating cash available. “Access to capital is also a huge problem for all businesses,” Trainor said. “Ones in at-risk areas don’t have access to capital or loans, and their businesses fail because they don’t have access to resources to allow them to weather the storm long enough to rebuild or get their business back up and running.”He added that the Small Business Administration will grant loans for businesses in at-risk areas, but this process can take time and isn’t a quick fix for the business.
  1. Consider your rebuilding strategy. Trainor advocates looking for local renovation services, if possible, because of the broader impact.

“Those first investments from companies make a big difference because investing in local contractors helps them to rebuild their business and their customer base, and can strengthen the local economy,” he said.

Prepare Hurricane Alerts with Emergency Notification Systems

When considering hurricane communications for your business, communicating with your workforce is a critical early step.

“It may sound silly, but many employers never talk to their employees about what they would do and what the expectations are during and following an emergency,” Trainor said. “This addresses any disconnect that may exist.”

From that discussion and training, you can consider the type of content you would incorporate into a hurricane alert to help them prepare.

AlertFind’s Emergency Communications Guide is an ideal resource for preparedness managers who need to draft emergency and hurricane alerts. The alerts should consider the specific threat you’re addressing and the actions you want your employees to take, and, should refer recipients to official sites for further preparedness tips, such as FEMA’s ready.gov site.

Once the expectations of the business for its employees are established, prewrite your alerts in advance of the various risks. These prewritten alerts should remind your workers of the preparedness plan, your expectations and how to remain safe.

“Engagement needs to be across the board,” said Trainor. “You need to be connected with the everyday operations of your employees.”

To learn more from Joe Trainor about preparing your organization for hurricane season, watch our new webinar, “Is Your Organization Hurricane-Ready? 5 Actions To Take Now.”

Watch the Webinar Now