Extreme weather: 8 strategies for resilience
September 19, 2017
Extreme weather is becoming a key factor in risk management for businesses. These tips can help you prepare.
Businesses, like families, are always in planning mode—planning their spending, their saving, their workdays and their getaways. But planning for extreme weather is often overlooked among other those other priorities.
That gap in risk management can intensify the effects of a catastrophic storm, as many who endured the recent historic flooding wrought by Harvey and Irma can attest. Both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma are estimated to have over $200 Billion in losses, this is comparable to Katrina.
The frequency of weather-related catastrophes has increased sixfold since the 1950s, according to the ClimateWise network of 29 insurers, including Zurich. Just one inch of water can cause $10,000 in damage to a business or home, according to SBP, a Zurich-supported disaster resilience and recovery nonprofit based in New Orleans.
While we can never eradicate floods and droughts, all of us can help mitigate the threats to businesses and homes.
Here are eight simple steps and broader strategies that can help businesses, homes and the people within them to weather the storms.
#1 Assemble an emergency kit for your business, home and car. Each emergency kit should include at least three days’ worth of food and water, a flashlight, a multipurpose tool and a blanket. Useful addition: A battery-powered charging bar for smartphones.
#2 Formulate a communications plan for work teams and loved ones, listing phone numbers in the event cell phones are lost or fail. Pack copies of the plan into your emergency kits.
#3 Store copies of all important documents in a waterproof bag or container, fire-proof safe or safety deposit box. Include copies of insurance policies to expedite the filing and processing of any claims after a disaster.
#4 Make and share an action plan. Because disaster can strike with little warning, the Federal Emergency Management Agency urges Americans to have a planned response in place at work, at home or on the road.
- Designate the safest places in those environments to take shelter from extreme winds, flash floods or other threats.
- Map escape routes.
- Specify an offsite meeting place in the event evacuation is necessary.
- List emergency duties that can be quickly assigned to those present, such as shutting off utilities.
#5 Know your risks. Visit floodsmart.gov and disastersafety.org and use the address and ZIP-code-based tools to help you identify hazards relevant to your area. The National Safety Council, Ready.gov, the National Weather Service and The Insurance Information Institute offer additional resources.
#6 Secure insurance coverage for the risks most likely to impact your area. The ClimateWise group says that the “protection gap”—the difference between the costs of natural disasters and the amount insured—has quadrupled to $100 billion a year since the 1980s.
#7 Fortify your business or home for storm resilience. SBP advises regular roof inspections for loose or cracked shingles. On new or replacement roofs, use ring-shank nails for their stronger hold in high winds. Building new offices? Raise your electrical outlets more than one foot above base elevation for flood safety. Plant vegetation to reduce runoff and erosion.
#8 Demonstrate leadership on preparedness. Consider weather-related service projects or training for your work team or family. SBP offers resources on both.
If you need a nudge to get started, September is National Preparedness Month, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security.