Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Precautions keep your business afloat

One in four businesses that close due to a disaster never reopen, according to Tampa's Institute for Business & Home Safety. Is your company prepared for the next gulf hurricane?

It's not just about putting up shutters. As experience from Hurricane Katrina shows, even businesses that suffer no physical damage can fail in the post-disaster chaos. Cash flow can dwindle if damaged roads and Internet outages prevent customers from transacting business with you. Work flow can slow if employees can't make it to your site. Critical supplies can get stuck on idled trucks miles away. If most of the population evacuates and doesn't return for weeks or months, who will your customers be?

To prepare for the worst, experts suggest five key steps:

1. Check your insurance policy. Is the amount of coverage sufficient? Does it cover damage from wind and floods? What is your deductible? Make sure you keep your policy number and agent's name and phone number inside your wallet, along with other key contact numbers

2. Ask your agent about business-interruption or hurricane insurance. Such policies typically cover lost profits and any extra operating expenses you might incur after a storm. They also can provide the cash you need to temporarily meet payroll or other obligations.

But be aware: Many policies pay out only if your business suffers physical damage. By contrast, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers post-disaster loans both for physical damage and indirect harm.

3. Develop a disaster survival plan and share it with your staff. What will you do if your business is cut off from customers, staff and suppliers? Could you operate indefinitely without electricity, Internet or phone service? Would it be possible to relocate your operations if necessary? Are your employees prepared to return to work after a disaster? As part of your plan, set up relationships with backup suppliers; buy a generator, portable air conditioner and battery-powered surge protector; store duplicate copies of your key documents and computer files at an alternate site; and install storm shutters or similar defenses.

4. Assemble a hurricane supply kit. Much like the one for your home, it should include bottled water and an ice chest, a radio, flashlights, batteries, duct tape, a first aid kit and sanitary supplies, canned and other nonperishable foods, emergency cooking supplies and utensils, a list of employee phone numbers and emergency contacts, and a camera to document property damage.

5. Make sure your own family is prepared. That includes familiarizing them with your post-disaster responsibilities at work.


To learn more

• For a detailed disaster-planning guide produced by the Institute for Business & Home Safety, visit and click on "Open for Business."

• To find out more about the Small Business Administration's disaster-loan programs, call toll-free 1-800-659-2955 or visit and click on "Disaster Assistance."

Precautions keep your business afloat 05/16/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 12:43pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rick Scott announces support for new legislation, $50 million to fight opioid crisis

    State Roundup

    Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that he is calling for a series of new proposals to fight the opioid epidemic in Florida, including $50 million in new funding.

    Gov. Rick Scott announced on Sept. 26, 2017, that he is calling for a series of new proposals to fight the opioid epidemic in Florida, including $50 million in new funding. [Associated Press file photo]
  2. Republicans to unveil broad tax cuts Wednesday, put off tough decisions


    President Donald Trump and top Republicans will promise a package of sweeping tax cuts for companies and individuals, the Washington Post reports, but the GOP leaders will stop short of labeling many of the tax breaks they hope to strip away, putting off controversial decisions that threaten to sink the party's tax …

    President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, in Washington. [Alex Brandon | Associated Press]
  3. Double your fun: Twitter's testing a 280-character limit for tweets


    Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey last year made a definitive announcement about the company's famous 140-character count amid rumors that the firm would substantially relax the limit. "It's staying," Dorsey told the "Today" show's Matt Lauer. "It's a good constraint for us."

    In this 2013, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on an updated phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. [AP photo]
  4. Dead woman with sun tattoo found near elementary school


    TAMPA --- She had a tattoo of a sun on her abdomen, with the words "The World is Mine."

  5. CentCom shares complexities of job with Tampa Rotarians


    TAMPA — As the commander of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel has one of the world's most challenging to-do lists.

    Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, tells Tampa Rotarians about the complexities of the region he oversees. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Times staff]