Whatever the location of your business in Australia, it’s likely that you will be faced with an extreme weather event or possibly a natural disaster at one time or another. The evidence for extreme weather events speaks for itself with areas of Australia experiencing floods, cyclones, severe storms and bushfires over the past few years (and often during one single year). So how can you protect your business and ensure that you keep everyone safe?
1. Know your risks
Check with the local council so that you are aware of the likelihood that any of these extreme events could happen in your area. They can also provide you with check lists and emergency plans for protecting your business against these extreme events. Once you know the types of weather events that threaten your business you will be better able to estimate your risks and put plans in place to mitigate these risks.
For example, do you need to make changes to the way you store materials, vehicles or flammable liquids, given the risk of a bushfire, flood, cyclone or severe storm? What additional safety measures can you put in place to reduce these risks to your business, assets and your employees?
2. Review your insurance cover
Speaking to your insurance specialist will help you to quantify these risks, ensuring that your emergency plans are realistic and effective. It can also help you to discover that you may not have sufficient insurance to replace all your assets if they were lost in an extreme weather event. So, it’s a good idea to maintain an up-to-date list of all your assets, including stock and contents. These lists will not only help you to determine if your existing cover is sufficient but will also assist when making a claim.
3. Create a major threat plan
All businesses should have a major threat plan that is accessible to everyone and can be implemented immediately if you are notified that an extreme weather event is approaching. These plans will be similar regardless of the actual event, but here are a few actions to consider for severe storms, cyclones, floods and bushfires.
Severe storms: Park vehicles undercover and protect others with tarps. Secure external doors, close windows, move essential stock indoors or place under tarps, secure loose items outdoors and turn off electricity, gas and water.
Cyclones: Prepare as for severe storms but be prepared to evacuate the area, checking that the advised escape routes are still clear. Keep checking for status updates and do a head count prior to immediate evacuation. Plans are available from your state government, an example of a plan can also be found at https://www.redcross.org.au/
Floods: Prepare as for cyclones, but also move equipment, vehicles and hazardous items to higher ground. Know your nearest safe high ground and safest access route and when evacuating, do a head count.
Bush fires: Have a written plan and talk to your staff and family about the plan. Turn off gas and electricity, and hose down your buildings if time permits. Evacuate as ordered and do a head count. Plans are available from your state government, an example of a plan can also be found https://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/your-bushfire-plan
Surviving and minimising loss and damage due to extreme weather events involves knowing your risks, being prepared and having a clear plan to follow. You also need to ensure that you have all the insurance cover you need to get back on your feet when everything settles down. To decide what type of insurance policies are suitable for your business, talk to an insurance specialist today and find your local adviser.
General Advice Warning
The information provided is to be regarded as general advice. Whilst we may have collected risk information, your personal objectives, needs or financial situations were not taken into account when preparing this information. We recommend that you consider the suitability of this general advice, in respect of your objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on it.