The days are getting longer and warmer on the Atlantic coast. That means tourist season — and hurricane season — is right around the corner. The summer of 2022 is set to break records both in terms of travel and significant weather events. Whether you’re concerned about slips and falls or a Category 5 storm, here are six tips to help you mitigate potential damage to your business, employees and customers in the event of a disaster:
- Assess your risks. First, identify the potential risks and hazards specific to your business. Think about your location, your layout, your operations and your clientele. For example, is your building in a flood zone? Do you store food subject to spoilage? Do you serve alcohol? Is your establishment kid-friendly? Considering the unique characteristics of your business will go a long way in preparing for any mishaps that may arise. Seek input from your employees in this process.
- Make a plan. Next, create written policies and procedures tailored to the identified risks and hazards. The stress of emergency situations can affect decision making and judgement. Having a written plan can greatly reduce chaos and confusion, saving property, equipment and lives. Periodically review the policies with your employees and revise them as necessary.
- Train your employees. Employees must know and be trained regularly on the policies and procedures in place. Depending on the type of risk involved, it may be beneficial to conduct simulations or exercises. Every employee should know their role and responsibilities in times of crisis.
- Papers, papers, papers. Good record keeping is essential to risk management. Maintain employee training records. Log incidents as they occur so you can properly assess your policies and decide if they need to be updated. Consider taking photos and/or videos of your property so you are prepared if you need to file an insurance claim.
- Backup information. It is essential to ensure that sensitive business records and customer information remain protected. With cybersecurity threats on the rise, make sure your technology is up to date. Use different passwords for different accounts. Tell your employees not to open suspicious emails or attachments. Separate your public Wi-Fi network from work Wi-Fi. Seek help from an IT professional if needed.
- Check your insurance. Confirm that you have appropriate insurance coverage. Commercial property insurance can cover damage to your building and its contents due to fire or storm. Flood insurance can cover losses caused by flooding. Liability insurance can protect you if an allegation is made against you by an injured customer. North Carolina law also requires most businesses with three or more employees to have workers’ compensation insurance to cover employees injured on the job. Cyber insurance can also protect you in the event of a cyber attack.
The above is by no means a complete list of everything you can do to prepare for an accident or disaster; however, considering these steps can give you a starting point for deciding what your business needs.