Ensure prep essentials are in place during peak hurricane season

Every summer brings the heat, and boy did Mother Nature ever bring it over the past three months or so. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. mainland had the fifth hottest summer on record, tied with 2006 when the average nationwide temperature was a steamy 73.5 degrees Fahrenheit, a full 2 degrees above what's typical for June through August.

But just as the dogs days of summer are known for oppressive heat, September is reputed for being the peak of the hurricane season, as some of the strongest storms in history have taken place during the 30-day stretch leading into October. It's with this in mind that the Insurance Information Institute has released tips on how entrepreneurs can prepare for whatever the Atlantic Ocean has in store as summer turns into fall.

Business owners have to be resilient when environmental disasters are possible. Unfortunately, when an establishment's mettle is tested, the doors never reopen for 40 percent of companies that encounter damage from violent weather extremes, the III noted from survey data run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Prioritize continuity planning
Business owners' chances of riding out the storm increase substantially when a business continuity plan is in place. These plans contain usable information including what the chain of protocol is when disaster strikes and what systems have to be called upon to ensure that operations remain as normal as possible. The III cited the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety as a template for how to respond to natural catastrophes and institute recovery planning.

Filing centers and lock boxes both serve as effective offsite places for maintaining crucial information. Filing cabinets and lock boxes both serve as effective offsite places for maintaining crucial information.

Keep important information in a different location
As the old saying goes, you never want to put your eggs all in one basket. This axiomatic phrase has real world applications, as in order for a business to be truly recoverable, critical data needs to be maintained off campus so that the company can pick up where it left off, the III stressed. Examples of information that should be stored elsewhere include sensitive banking material, insurance policy specifics, backed up computer data and contact information for both vendors and suppliers.

Review insurance policies
Insurance coverage often gets lost in the shuffle, figuratively speaking, when running a business. Once it's purchased, it's normal for policyholders to forget it until they need it. This can lead to unfortunate surprises, as was the case for a number of home and business owners in Louisiana. According to estimates from reinsurance firm Aon Benfield, approximately 80 percent of properties in the Bayou State do not participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, which is run by the federal government and made available through private insurers. In general, the typical flood policy for entrepreneurs provides $500,000 in building coverage to fund losses and another $500,000 for contents that are destroyed or damaged.

Update emergency supplies
Maintaining an emergency kit – containing food, water, medical supplies and communication specifics – isn't a one-and-done deal. Medicines expire and resources that are traditionally effective may no longer be so when consumables aren't rotated. Both the Insurance Information Institute and NOAA encourage business owners to assemble disaster relief supplies and make note of their "use by" dates. Replace products, supplies and foodstuffs where and when appropriate.

Continuity Centers has the experience and know-how to keep businesses up and running when everything else is falling apart. A company is only as strong as its weakest link. Enlisting the help of Continuity Centers can help ensure that kinks in the chain are smoothed out so slowdowns are rendered moot.