Hurricanes come with many dangers, including high speed winds and heavy rain with the potential to cause massive flooding, power outages and destruction. No matter where you are located or what disaster you are preparing for, you should always be ready for the worst-case scenario.
Being a behavioral healthcare billing company located in Florida we have a yearly hurricane/tropical storm risk. Through much invested time, Integrity Billing is properly prepared to provide consistent and in most cases uninterrupted service to our nationwide clients who may not be directly affected by the same severe weather we may face.
In September of 2017 Integrity Billing experienced its first large storm, Hurricane Irma. Expectations for Irma were devastating as it headed straight for Florida’s east coast. Integrity Billing’s detailed hurricane preparedness plan, which was developed well before hurricane season, allowed the smooth implementation of preparing equipment, offices and workflow for the worst-case scenario. Having set roles in place for our staff allowed employees to understand when to take action and specifically what to do. Full communication and plans with our utilities and other vendors ensured our workflow would have little to no interruption. As it turned out, Irma was much less severe in our area then initially forecasted. With the unpredictability of hurricanes and weather in general, we are confident that we have the ability to quickly and effectively implement our successful plan for any emergency weather situation.
As a business owner this diligence is needed not only for clients and the services we perform, but for the staff and their safety. It is important to remember that the staff is the heart of a business, they cannot be replaced like equipment or building structures. The faster a business can implement a disaster preparedness plan the faster they can let the staff go to take care of what is most important, their families.
- Stay up to date with your local Emergency Alert System and NOAA
- If you rent or lease your office space there are a few important questions you should ask the property owner
- What is their hurricane preparedness plan?
- Does the building have hurricane windows?
- How long after a hurricane warning is issued will you have access to the building?
- Is the building in a flood zone?
- Are the roads leading to your business prone to flooding?
- Is the building located in a mandatory evacuation zone?
- Keep a stock pile of emergency supplies at the office. Do not wait until an issued weather advisory, you may find the shelves empty.
- Tape (gaffer tape is easily removable and will not leave residue)
- Water tight containers to store and protect smaller electronic devices
- Contractor trash bags/plastic sheeting to protect electronic devices
- Contact your clients to notify them of the hurricane and your company preparedness plan
- Contact vendors you rely on and ask how they have prepared. Ask them if they have backup power in the event of an extended power outage
- Save and print phone lists incase power is lost
- Up to date employee list
- Vendors and utility companies
- Fire/Police emergency and non-emergency numbers
- Contact your IT group and make sure that your server is up to date and backed up prior to leaving building
- Designate an employee task force well ahead of hurricane season
- Review with each employee their responsibilities in detail
- Have the task force meet quarterly and update plans as needed
- Forward office phones to cellular phones
- This helps you to continue to serve your clients (as long as cellular towers are operating)
- Set up pre-scripted out of office greetings for phones, emails, and any other contact points
- Most office phones will allow you to pre-record greetings
A few hurricane facts
- Hurricane season starts Mid-May in the Pacific and Early June in the Atlantic, with both ending in Late November
- Hurricanes are able to affect areas 100 miles inland along all coastal territories in the US
- Hurricanes are most active in the month of September