Don't Let Unpredictable Summer Weather Affect Your Pawn Business
Summer is known to be the season of fun in the sun – but it also brings the threat of dangerous storms. Summer weather can become extreme with thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornados, and the threat of flooding on top of it all. Don’t get caught unprepared in an emergency. Start by checking to make sure you have the right insurance to protect you from severe weather—including wind damage, fire caused by lightning, and water damage from flooding.
Review Your Insurance Plan
Make sure you have sufficient coverage to pay for the indirect costs of the disaster—the disruption to your business—as well as the cost of repair or rebuilding. Most policies do not cover flood or earthquake damage and you may need to buy separate insurance for these perils. Be sure you understand your policy deductibles and limits.
For a business, the costs of a disaster can extend beyond the physical damage to the premises, equipment, furniture and other business property.
There’s the potential loss of income while the premises are unusable. Your disaster recovery should include a detailed review of your insurance policies to ensure there are no gaps in coverage. This includes property insurance, business interruption insurance and extra expense insurance. Even if your basic policy covers expenses and loss of net business income, it may not cover income interruptions due to damage that occurs away from your premises—such as to your key customer or supplier or to your utility company. You can generally buy this additional coverage and add it to your existing policy.
Creating A Disaster Recovery Plan
No matter how small or large a business, a business impact analysis should be developed to identify what an operation must do to protect itself in the face of a natural disaster.
- Set up an emergency response plan and train employees how to carry it out. Make sure employees know who to notify about the disaster and what measures to take to ensure safety and limit property losses.
- Write out each step of the plan and assign responsibilities to employees in clear and simple language. Practice the procedures set out in the emergency response plan with regular, scheduled drills.
- Consider the things you may initially need during the emergency. Do you need a back-up source of power? Do you have a back-up communications system?
- Decide on a communications strategy to prevent loss of customers. Post notices outside your premises; contact clients by phone, email or regular mail; and place a notice in local newspapers.
- Protect employees and customers from injury on the premises. Consider the possible impact a disaster will have on your employees’ ability to return to work and how customers can return to your premises, or receive goods or services.
- Compile a list of important phone numbers and addresses. Make sure you can get in touch with key people after the disaster. The list should include local and state emergency management agencies, major clients, contractors, suppliers, realtors, financial institutions, insurance agents and insurance company claim representatives.
- Keep duplicate records. Back-up computerized data files regularly and store them off-premises. Keep copies of important records and documents in a safe deposit box and make sure they’re up to date.
- Protect your building. If you own the structure that houses your business, integrate disaster protection for the building as well as the contents into your plan. Consider the financial impact if your business shuts down as a result of a disaster. What would be the impact for a day, a week or an entire revenue period?
- Gather a list of vendors and telephone numbers of individuals or entities that are critical to your daily operations. Identify critical business activities and the resources needed to support them. If you cannot afford to shut down your operations, even temporarily, determine what you require to run the business at another location.
- Prepare a list of companies that can assist you in recovery efforts, such as removing debris, moving and computer services.
- Protect computer systems and data. Data storage firms offer off-site backups of computer data that can be updated regularly via high-speed modem or through the Internet.
- Designate a remote phone number on your voicemail system for which you can record messages to employees in the event of an emergency. Arrange for programmable call forwarding of your business lines with the phone company. Then you can call and reprogram your phones from a remote location, if needed.
Before a Thunderstorm and Lightning
Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which is extremely dangerous. Though lightning fatalities have decreased over the past 30 years, lightning continues to be one of the top three storm-related killers in the United States. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms. Other associated dangers of thunderstorms include tornadoes, strong winds, hail and flash flooding.
To prepare for a thunderstorm, you should do the following:
- Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
- Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
- The best way to protect yourself against lightning injury or death is to monitor the weather and postpone or cancel outdoor activities when thunderstorms are in the forecast. Lightning can strike from 10 miles away, so if you can hear thunder, you are in danger of being struck by lightning.
Preparing Your Business for Flooding
Floods can sometimes be predictable. It is impossible to completely flood-proof your property, but flood preparation can lower your business’ risk of damage and reduce business interruptions.
Begin your preparation by consulting your area’s flood risk map, which you can find at www.floodsmart.gov. Once you have assessed your risk, it is time to prepare your business. Buy and install products in advance that fortify your property against water. Consider the following precautions against flooding when building or remodeling:
- Purchase flood boards for your doors that you can install when flooding is imminent.
- Seal floors to prevent water seeping up through the ground.
- Fit non-return valves to drains and both inlet and outlet water pipes.
- Raise electrical sockets, fuse boxes and wiring at least 12 inches above the 100-year flood level in your area.
- You may also want to stockpile useful materials like plastic sheeting, plywood, sandbags, hammers and shovels in case you need to react quickly.
Hurricane Preparation Suggestions
From June through November, hurricanes are at their peak. During a hurricane, heavy rains and catastrophic winds barrel through coastal areas and can severely damage or destroy homes and businesses. The best way to minimize damage from a hurricane is to be prepared before one strikes. Consider incorporating the following hurricane preparation suggestions into your business to avoid unnecessary upsets in the event that disaster strikes:
- Have your building inspected by a licensed professional to ensure that the roof and other connections comply with the wind loading requirements for your area.
- Consider installing impact-resistant film on your windows.
- Install emergency backup lights that turn on when the power goes out.
Constantly diversify your customer base, products and sales locations. This will prevent a major loss, if a majority of your customer base is also affected by the hurricane.
- Bolt tall bookcases and displays to the wall studs.
- Secure breakable items in a stand using hook-and-loop fasteners.
- Place large objects on low shelving. Install latches on drawers to prevent them from flying open.
- Secure pictures and mirrors to the wall with closed screw eyes and wire.
- Secure your water heater to the wall studs with plumber’s tape or strap iron.
- Install flexible connectors to appliances using natural gas and automatic fire sprinklers.
Most business owners are complacent about natural disasters until it happens to them. Don’t let a lack of insurance coverage or poor planning destroy your business. Contact us to learn more about disaster planning and to determine your best insurance coverage needs.
- Restoring Your Business After a Flood
Tornado Preparedness and Response Tips from OSHA