Disclaimer: This blog is not for the people on the coast who should have evacuated or hunkered down by now. This is for those of you on the edges of Hurricane Florence who might have questions about how to safeguard your business when it comes to preparing for a hurricane while in the path but not on the coast.
Weather reports are calling for heavy rains and winds in the projected inland sections of the Hurricane Florence path. This means that you will need to prepare for flooding, power outages, and possible infrastructure failure.
Tips for Preparing for a Hurricane
Plan for the worst. Not apocalypse-level, but you don’t want to come out on the other side of Hurricane Florence wishing you had done more to prepare. This hurricane preparation primer is aimed at making sure Hurricane Florence doesn’t destroy your business, but the following is by no means a comprehensive guide.
Protect Your Files From Hurricane Florence
The Digital Age is not waterproof. Floods could invade your office, or the roof could falter and let water in. If your company’s important paperwork (payroll, HR, production documents, photos, etc) are stored somewhere cloud-based, double check to make sure there are no sensitive files that exist solely on one person’s desktop. Encourage your employees to make a Hurricane File on a shared cloud drive if they have any crucial data they don’t have time to back up properly. They can encrypt it if it’s not meant for everyone to see; the main point is to ensure that access to the information is not lost forever if the office floods.
If your company is not cloud-based, back everything up in multiple places. Since you’re in a time-crunch, have your employees use their best judgment as to what is crucial. Unless you have a list of important documents that everyone needs to back up, tell them to save anything a new hire in their position would need to do their job effectively.
Ideally, you have a couple external hard drives in your possession people can back up to, but if not there are thumb drives and email. You want to have every important document available in at least two places, whether that is floating around your Gmail or saved to a bag full of thumb drives.
Protip: Do not store valuable papers in any office dishwashers. Just because office dishwashers keep water in does not mean they can keep water out.
Hurricane Prep List: Office Food
If you have a refrigerator in your office you can do three things about all the food that will be in there unattended during Hurricane Florence: you can eat it all, throw it out, or use the penny-cup trick
The penny-cup trick takes a day to take effect, and will determine if the food in your refrigerator is edible once you return to the office following Hurricane Florence. Fill a mid-size cup (like the disposable kind used at parties) to the top with water, and freeze it overnight. Once the water is frozen, place a penny on top of the ice. Put the cup back in the freezer during the storm. Once you return, check to see how far below the top of the ice the penny now is––if you lost power, the ice would have thawed and the penny would have sunk. If the penny is still at or near enough to the top, the food in your office freezer and fridge should still be viable.
Take Pictures of Your Valuables
Having insurance is a good start, but with such a high volume of people also making insurance claims after the storm it helps to have proof of what you owned. Document your possession of printers, supplies, and any technology. Get serial numbers if you can.
Seek High Ground
If you have company vehicles that are not in use every day, check your local listings about parking garages that are open to the public. Park your vehicles there if you can. If you have employees who live on a hill, ask if they’d be willing to host a company car in exchange for a small bonus.
Seek high ground for what is inside of your business as well. As a last-ditch effort to preserve valuable documents or other important items, wrap them in plastic or a few layers of coats from the Lost and Found, and then store them on the middle or mid-top shelf of a closet. This way, they have extra insulation from potential floodwaters.
Hopefully, this primer has provided you with a few tools you can use to prepare your business for Hurricane Florence. Once the storm settles, we hope we can give you other tools as well––the tools to handle your ACA reporting for 2018. We provide full-service ACA reporting designed especially to get your 1094 and 1095 forms where they need to go with time to spare. Schedule an appointment with one of our account managers today.