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Protecting the business

In Barbados, hurricane preparedness very often focusses on individuals and their homes.

This ranges from ensuring homes are adequately insured, to collecting supplies of items such as water, food and medicines in the event a storm hits.

But while each of us live in a home with our love ones, most of us also work somewhere, and reasonably hope and expect to return to these places when normalcy returns.

And so it is important for businesses, whatever size they are, also prepare for the likelihood of bad weather.

At the outset it is important for companies to development written hurricane plans and it is also critical that they train employees to implement these plans.

The major areas people in the corporate world should focus on when formulating such plans included:

* Outlining the way in which plant and equipment will be protected.

* Developing a staffing policy, identifying essential employees and which of them, if any, must remain at the facility during the hurricane.

* Developing procedures and policies for all phases of hurricane operations, focussing on pre-season preparedness, hurricane watch, hurricane warning, and the period after the storm.

* Identifying and protecting vital records such as the monies owed, client and tax records, and other personnel and administrative documents.

* Reviewing insurance policies to ensure that there is adequate coverage.

It is important that during the period before any storm or hurricane business people formulate an emergency contact list with 24-hour telephone contact numbers of essential employees.

This is in addition to identifying a safe storage level area, above ground level, within the facility where records can be relocated, if necessary.

Companies should also consider moving their important records to another location, especially if their office is located in an area vulnerable to flooding and other bad weather.

It is also important for those concerned to determine who will be responsible for maintaining the facility, while also paying attention to the type and amount of hurricane emergency supplies necessary, and providing employees with hurricane preparedness information.

Then there is the task at the hurricane watch and warnings stages and after the storm.

In the case of a watch issued by meteorological officials, the important tasks included securing all doors, windows, and other openings against wind and water, securing objects which could be blown about and installing hurricane shutters and other forms of protection.

Having completed these and other important tasks, there is less to do during the more potentially dangerous warning period, and this includes moving desks, files, equipment and furniture away from un-shuttered windows, dismissing all non-essential personnel, and turning off all machinery and equipment.

After the storm passes, the task for businesses depending on the severity of the storm and the impact on their offices, is essentially one of organising and cleaning up.

It is also important to ensure communication lines with staff, who themselves might have been more negatively affected at home, are kept informed at all times, including when they are required to report for duty.

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