Since the record-shattering Atlantic hurricane season of 2005, that region has experienced hurricane activity that has been calmer by comparison. While this is a positive result in many respects, there is a risk that property owners may have become complacent about the possibility of storm-related damage and the impact it could have on business operations. As the respected Colorado State University forecaster Dr. Philip Klotzbach stated in this year’s initial extended-range forecast, “As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.”
With that warning in mind, Dr. Klotzbach predicted the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season will have slightly below-average activity with a forecast including eleven named storms including four hurricanes with two classified as major hurricanes (Category 3-5). Additionally, this forecast estimates the probability of a major hurricane landfall on the U.S. East Coast as 42 percent, the Florida peninsula as 24 percent, and the Gulf Coast as 24 percent. The hurricane season officially begins on June 1st, and self-storage business owners in coastal areas are encouraged to take the necessary steps now to prepare for hurricanes and severe weather.
Create an Emergency Plan
The first step is to create an emergency preparedness plan and communicate it to your managers and employees. For self-storage business owners not located in hurricane-prone areas, remember that severe weather in the form of tornadoes, windstorms, fire, and earthquakes may strike at any time. An emergency preparedness plan is a basic requirement for all businesses.
- Training – Once the plan is in place, provide ongoing training for your staff to familiarize them with its key elements and procedures including shelter-in-place provisions and post-storm safety considerations.
- Emergency Contacts and Documentation – Assemble a list of important contact information and keep it in a secure location away from the facility premises. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of the list on your person when severe weather is imminent. Contacts should include carrier names, addresses, phone numbers, and policy numbers for each of your insurance policies as well as contact numbers for employees, local police, medical facilities, utilities, and other emergency contacts.
- Insurance – Contact your insurance agent to ensure that storm- and disaster-related exposures are addressed by your policy. Review your building values, deductibles, and business interruption coverage. The time to address potential financial exposures is before you have a claim, not in the wake of a catastrophic loss.
- Vendor Supply Chain – Identify vendors and contractors in your area and talk to them about their ability to respond following a catastrophic event. It may be possible to make arrangements with these businesses to secure priority response for your facility in the aftermath of a catastrophic event.
- Customer Contact Information – Keep an electronic record of customer contact data such as email addresses and telephone numbers in order to provide pre- and post-storm communications about accessibility at the self-storage facility and related issues.
Liberty Mutual Insurance, one of MiniCo’s carriers, has prepared a detailed hurricane action plan that you may download at www.minico.com/hurricaneplan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers many valuable online resources for business owners at www.ready.gov/business including insurance coverage review forms, checklists, communication plans, and other preparedness documents.
Take steps now to protect your business investment, employees, and customers in the event of a hurricane or severe weather emergency. Safeguard your bottom line by being prepared.
President and CEO