Be prepared

Every year I like to give an early reminder to my colleagues in industry and on the island in general to become prepared for the hurricane season.

Although the hurricane season does not officially begin until June, I still do not believe that we should wait until the start of this very dangerous time of the year to get prepared. We have all seen how others have been devastated during bad weather in other parts of the world.

May is always the time of the year when you should have a meeting with your emergency team. For those businesses that have not yet formed such a team, now is as good a time as any other.

For those who may have forgotten some of what I suggested in previous years, it is recommended that a comprehensive review of the previous year’s activities be done to determine the effectiveness of your hurricane preparedness plan, which you should already have in place. Establish that your emergency team has full representation for all areas of the establishments and if not, it may be necessary to invite other members to join the team.

Mutual aid agreements are very important in the planning process of the hurricane season. Now would be a good time to check to make sure that the previous arrangements are still in place and can be activated in short order.

Another important element of this preparation process is staff training. Never assume that new members of staff know what to do and do not take it for granted that established members of staff will remember either. In order to minimise the risk associated with hurricanes, everyone should be trained on what is required of them before a hurricane. This training should be done in advance of any adverse weather system and not because of an announcement.

There is enormous pressure on our tourism industry in terms of our economic performance and foreign exchange earning capacity. While we continue to fight in a challenging economic climate, we must do everything to protect this very vulnerable industry by being highly prepared to face the unforeseen.

We have been fortunate over many years, not to suffer significant loss from hurricanes. Nevertheless, have we been as prepared as we ought to? I would like to suggest that no amount of planning is too much, the alternatives are too dangerous and the repercussions too great.

Let us take early actions to ensure that our plans are in place and, if there are elements to our plans that need changing, now would be a good time to make the changes. Most importantly, communicate these plans with all members of staff.

In reviewing a recent study of what affects employees most at work, it was suggested that employees personal issues are at the top of their concerns. Let me also suggest that we as leaders in business, encourage our staff members to develop their own personal hurricane plan for home as well in order that we help to reduce their concerns during this hurricane season.

* Tourism is our business, let us play our part.

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