National Preparedness Month 

Tropical Storm Gordon is rampaging across the gulf coast as this year’s hurricane season gets into full swing. With memories of last year’s devastating hurricanes, the most expensive on record with over $200 Billion in damages, many retailers are wondering how they can protect their stock and stores from these natural disasters in 2018. Since September is National Preparedness Month, where home and business owners take the time to go over their emergency planning and supplies, here are some important steps and good practices that retailers can take to prepare their businesses for these unfortunate events.

Be Aware 

There are many lists and articles available to direct retailers how to specifically prepare their business for a disaster, and provide a more comprehensive list of steps to take. What nearly every one of them stresses as a starting point is situational awareness.

Whether a business is located in tornado alley, or an area at risk of forest fires or coastal hurricanes, each region of the United States is prone to different natural disasters. Chances are local retailers are already familiar with these, but it is still wise to review an emergency plan at the start of each danger season, so that they can be notified well in advance of a disaster.

Situational awareness in these cases is paramount and can help keep businesses and their employees safe. This should include being able to hear the warnings, whether those come in the form of sirens or emergency radio broadcasts and being aware of threats before they become imminent by tracking the weather.

Protect Your Business and Customers

Fires, floods, and electrical outages all play havoc with the carefully designed procedures put in place in by stores, so it is important to prepare for these unfortunate occurrences.  Aside from the usual steps owners take to prepare their physical store or office, there are also steps to take to safeguard information. For instance, every business most likely has sensitive paperwork or customer data stored on site. It is wise to move it to a safe location or back it up to a cloud storage service, both to protect important data and to the privacy of clients.

Another often overlooked consideration is the environmental impact of a damaged store. Retail locations often carry chemicals or other hazardous materials that, when disturbed by flood waters or fires, can breach their safe containers and potentially harm other people or animals. It’s important take stock of potentially hazardous materials and take steps to prevent them from hurting employees or locals when the business reopens. 

Disaster Preparedness and Relief 

Should the unthinkable happen, it is vital to keep one’s wits about them. After all, this is exactly what insurance is for. Business owners should document the damage as clearly and comprehensively as possible with photos and video to give an insurance company a clear picture.

There are also numerous state and federal aid resources to help businesses rebuild after a disaster. FEMA is a good place to start, both for preparedness guidelines  and for disaster relief since they can direct those in need to more specific resources based on area or disaster type.

Take the time this month to review emergency protocols and supplies; it can save a business when the time comes.