A few companies love a howling blizzard and welcome dire forecasts: hardware stores that sell ice melt and snow shovels, landscapers with plows mounted on trucks and grocery stores. Most businesses, however, blanch at the approach of whiteout conditions because they imperil employees, deter customers, endanger properties and slow operations.
Blizzards, say meteorological pundits, strike far more frequently than they used to. From 1960 to 1994, North America endured about nine blizzards a year. Since 1994, they more than doubled in frequency, now blasting through about 19 times annually. Preparation, say the experts, is key to reducing severe weather impacts:
- Reinforcing building envelopes, repairing roofs, anchoring eavestroughs, strengthening doors and windows, and ensuring adequate drainage.
- Protecting critical equipment and systems by relocating them to higher ground if possible, as well as backing up data, reallocating critical inventory and equipment.
- Ensuring key staff are prepared for remote work and secure communications.
- Inspecting critical back-up supplies and requisitioning adequate foul weather supplies like ice melt, COVID-19 protection items like hand sanitizer, masks and gloves.
- Conducting dry runs to ensure that plans function properly and staff know what to do.
Fortunately, Paul Davis compiled a comprehensive program specifically to help business owners get ready: the Emergency Preparedness Planning program. Enrolling in the EPP program ensures companies receive rapid, customized response when severe storms strike a business.
Sign-up is simple, says Pam de Boer, Continuing Education Director and the Administrator of the Emergency Preparedness Planning program at Paul Davis. “Your local Paul Davis office leads the planning process from start to finish,” de Boer says, adding that there is no charge for the service. “Working closely with your management, maintenance departments and safety officers, we tailor an emergency plan to your property, staff, operations schedule and business type.”
Plans compile a range of information: emergency contacts, preferred trade and supplier partners, mechanical room information, shutoff locations, on-site emergency equipment, company contact information and a variety of additional details. They include special instructions pre-loss, too. “Often companies designate where they’d like us to start if we respond to their location,” says de Boer. “A manufacturing company may designate valuable equipment as a top priority. A florist may protect perishable inventory first.”
Paul Davis provides participating companies with electronic plans or as printed copies; Paul Davis also communicates the plan to main points of contact if an emergency occurs. Signing up for the EPP program also checks another box on the blizzard prep list: selecting a disaster recovery partner before winter storms threaten. Knowing whom to call if the roof collapses under snow, pipes freeze and burst, or the loading bay doors blow open is the best route to quick recovery and minimizing a frigid storm’s long-term impacts on your business.