Tropical Storm Joaquin officially became Hurricane Joaquin last Wednesday. The Bahamas were under hurricane watches and warnings that a storm was likely to make landfall between 36 to 48 hours.
Natural disasters are dangerous. You should never wait for a disaster warning before securing your home, your family and your business. If you’re a business owner, now is the time to prepare. Make sure to check on your property insurance and secure your financial documents. Here are four of my top tips for safeguarding your valuables from a disaster:
1. SECURE YOUR VALUABLES – If you own a business, now is the time to audit your valuables and make sure you have a plan to secure them in case of a storm or natural disaster. You should also make it a point at least once a year to review your property insurance, payroll services plan and your computer data services. Do you have your data backed up on another drive or in the cloud? Will your employees get paid even if a storm hits? Do you have the proper insurance to cover all of your valuables? Ask yourself these questions and if you answered no to any of them, call your accountant, bookkeeper, insurance agent or payroll specialist now.
2. DOCUMENT BUSINESS EQUIPMENT – Make sure you have a detailed list of your business equipment and valuables. If your business is housed in a warehouse, go room by room and either write down what’s in each room, take a picture or videotape it. Store that information in the cloud or with someone who doesn’t live nearby. If you log onto IRS.gov, you can find disaster loss workbooks for both businesses and individuals (Publications 584 and 584-B) to help you document what you own.
3. GO PAPERLESS – If you don’t do your own books, your bookkeeper or accountant should have your business’ books stored virtually in the cloud, and if they don’t, ask them where they are keeping that important information. It’s not a bad idea to go paperless when it comes to your bank statements, W-2s, insurance records and tax returns by either requesting electronic versions of each or scanning them into your computer and saving them on a hard drive or uploading them to the cloud. Going paperless will ensure you have the important documents in place you will need if a natural disaster affects you or your business.
4. HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLAN – Now that you’ve secured your business, it’s time to update or implement an emergency plan. Make sure you know where the closest shelter is in case you or your employees need to evacuate. Also, know how you will communicate with your employees and customers if a storm strikes or before one does. Finally, have a disaster kit at your business in case something happens. Consider owning a generator if you need to keep important machinery running. Regularly update your emergency plan, and of course, put it into action if you need to.
Thankfully, Hurricane Joaquin didn’t affect Florida. Whew for us! I hope everyone in its path makes it through safely. In the meantime, do you have an emergency plan in place? If your answer is no, use this opportunity to get prepared. The Atlantic Hurricane Season lasts through November 30th, so now is as good a time as any to prepare.
Have a great week!