Hurricane damage can severely impact the health of your small business. It's not just a matter of having to pay to repair any damages, either. If your office building is severely damaged, you may lose a lot of productive hours while the repairs are being made. If you have to close temporarily, you may lose clients who will take their business elsewhere out of necessity. You could also lose employees who can't afford to be out of work during an extended shut down. Protecting your office property is just smart business. Take a look at a few tips that can help.
Consider Installing Impact-Resistant Windows
In most buildings, it's the windows that are the weakest spots during a storm. If wind pressure or wind-blown debris shatters even one of your windows, you're at much greater risk for interior damage from rain or wind. You have several options for protecting your windows from wind and debris damage, but installing impact resistant glass is the most practical method. Choosing to board up your windows or install hurricane shutters requires that you put up the plywood or close the shutters for every storm, which may not be practical or possible if you close your business in preparation for the storm and no one is there to put up the plywood or close the shutters. Impact resistant windows will also protect you from storms that have less warning than hurricanes, like tornadoes.
An effective impact window system is made of a reinforced window frame system and laminated glass. Laminated glass alone is not sufficient to protect against hurricane-force winds and impact from storm debris, so be sure that you choose a window system with the reinforced frame. For greater energy efficiency, choose a double paned impact-rated window system.
Whatever you do to protect your office windows, do not rely on duct tape to protect your office in a storm. It's a common misconception that duct tape is a cheap and effective way to reinforce windows, but this method is at best ineffective. At worst, it can be dangerous because it causes windows to shatter into larger and more dangerous shards of glass.
Secure Any Large Furniture
The average office is full of large pieces of furniture that can cause destruction if they happen to fall over. Your office's bookcases, shelves, and filing cabinets may be stable enough on a day-to-day basis, but if the winds are high enough to cause the building to shake, will they remain standing? You can anchor a set of shelves or a bookcase to the wall with a strap fastener set easily purchased at any home improvement store. Filing cabinets can often be bolted to the floor.
If you have time to prepare for the storm, you may want to remove heavy books from shelves and take the drawers out of your filing cabinets and set them on a stable surface. This further reduces the chance that your office will be a mess when you return to it.
Protect Your Data
Even if you've taken precautions to prevent water from getting in and papers from being scattered, it's in your best interests to prepare for the worst possible scenario. If a hurricane took off the roof of your building, would your most sensitive and difficult to replace documents be lost?
Store original copies of your most important documents in a sealed container that is both water-proof and fire resistant. Store copies in an off-site location, or on a secure online network that you can access even if your office computers are damaged or destroyed. With your documents, you should store a list of essential business contacts, including lawyers, suppliers, bankers, and accountants, as well as a list of employee and client contact information.
Hurricane preparedness is part of the cost of doing business in a hurricane-prone area. With proper preparation and planning, you'll be as ready as you can be to get back to work after the storm.