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The early forecast for the Atlantic hurricane season is for above-normal activity in 2024. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting eight to 13 hurricanes and four to seven major hurricanes. While the term Hurricane is used to describe tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic and North Pacific, tropical cyclones also occur in the Northwest Pacific, South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

Businesses should prepare now for the best chance of withstanding and recovering from an extreme weather event by putting the following procedures in place:

  1. Update and test your emergency preparedness plans: Preparation before the storm minimizes property damage and reduces business interruption. Ensure your business has a comprehensive written emergency response plan for extreme weather events, including high winds and flood. A good plan has the support of senior management, site-specific recommendations and clear delineation of responsibilities.
  2. Test and update business continuity plans annually: The crucial role of business contingency plans has become more apparent as a result of recent natural catastrophes. If a storm is expected to hit on a weekend or a Monday, it can make it difficult for employees to develop and implement business contingency plans while preparing their homes and families for the storm. A well-developed contingency plan provides businesses with the tools to get back up and running as quickly as possible.
  3. Understand your insurance policy: Business owners should take the time to read their current policy and discuss with their brokers what is covered and where there may be gaps. Determine if the limits of liability are in line with the current dollar value of the cost to repair or replace the damage. Consider adding an extended period of indemnity clause to the business interruption coverage to support the business until it returns to its pre-loss financial condition.
  4. Know what to prepare for: Planning for a wind event involves different preparation than planning for flooding. In the case of an event such as Superstorm Sandy, which occurred in 2012, the majority of preparation was based on a high wind event, leaving many businesses unprepared for the flooding caused by the storm surge. As more sophisticated tracking models are introduced, more accurate information will be available.
  5. Consider making improvements to the building and site: The following enhancements could help your business withstand the high winds and flooding that can accompany a windstorm:
  • Emergency generators for loss of power.
  • Floodgates and flood doors.
  • Lifting critical equipment above the highest anticipated flood levels.
  • Protecting the building "envelope" from high winds (this refers to the physical boundaries between the interior and exterior of a building, such as the roof, windows and doors). This could include measures such as using impact-resistant doors and glass or providing additional securement of the roof covering system to the roof deck.

The above slideshow reviews 10 things to include as part of a good business continuity plan. If you are in the US, visit National Hurricane Preparedness for more information about determining your risk and developing an evacuation plan.

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