What do banks, grocery stores, restaurants and retail chains all have in common? While their daily operations differ in lots of ways, their facilities are all susceptible to natural disasters, severe weather events and other dangerous emergencies. And with these events comes considerable risk, which is why it’s important to protect your employees and customers as well as your facilities and assets against potential harm.

But how do you prepare for storm season and what supplies should you invest in? When should you start getting your facilities ready for a major storm? What additional tools can you use to ensure a swift response to unforeseen events?

Here are some important factors to consider when preventing weather-related damage from taking a toll on your business.

Prepare for Seasonal Threats

Although it’s difficult to predict exactly what a given winter storm or hurricane will bring, certain precautions are a must, especially for particular geographic regions.

For example, if you own a retail chain with locations along the Gulf Coast, it’s probably a good idea to start prepping for hurricanes—which typically make landfall between June and November—before the season officially begins. Stock up on supplies such as plywood and sandbags to safeguard at-risk locations against high winds and flooding. These things will be in short supply if a storm materializes during peak season. Prepare for excess water by removing items from the floor or other hazardous locations—everything from your products and equipment to important records should be housed out of harm’s way.

Also check to make sure things like your exit signs, emergency lighting and fire extinguishers are in working order. Your sprinkler systems should be cleared as well because even though fire and heavy rains don’t typically mix, hurricane-grade winds and the damage they inflict make fires more likely to occur.

Devise an Emergency Response Plan

Some storms can strike with little or no advance warning, and in those scenarios, you will need to engage an emergency response plan quickly. Be sure to have your business’s insurance documents handy at all times for when unexpected events do occur, as you may need to communicate with your insurance company on short notice. Communicating with your employees should be a priority, as well, and having a plan in place, such as a phone tree, will help you reach key staff to ensure their safety and/or designate responsibilities if help is needed when a storm hits.

In many cases, businesses don’t have enough staff to respond to weather events, and may need additional assistance from an FM business partner. When seeking an FM vendor, it helps to find one with national reach—even if they’re not headquartered in your area, they can help you navigate the recovery process by deploying a broad network of regional connections and responders who can be on the scene with the necessary tools when you need them most.

Unfortunately, some organizations will find themselves dealing with irreversible damage when hurricanes or other events strike, forcing them to rebuild rather than simply repair. This adds a whole new layer to the disaster recovery process, but luckily, it’s one that an FM partner with experience in construction project management can assist you with. From delegating on-site recovery responsibilities and supervising crews to reporting back to headquarters with routine progress updates, an FM partner that also provides construction management services is invaluable during an emergency.

Use FM Technology to Access Real-Time Updates

Winter weather, fires, hurricanes—you name it; they all have the potential to inflict serious harm to you, your business and your property. If things get bad enough that you must vacate your business to seek safety, your worries are often compounded by the fact that you don’t know how your facilities will weather the storm.

With an experienced FM partner, communicating with you and dispatching teams to take action, you’ll have access to real-time updates on what’s happening and where. Things you might not even think you need—for instance, a boat to access locations that have experienced considerable flooding—will be at your fingertips. Up-to-the-minute information, including photos of the affected sites, can provide much-needed clarity and enable you to make informed decisions about how to mitigate further damage.

Your FM partner can also help when it comes to prevention by alerting you in advance of regional weather hazards that are forecasted for your area, giving you time to be proactive and gather resources. Even in the face of less-than-ideal circumstances, these practices can protect your facilities and keep your assets safe.

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