So far hurricane season has been uneventful unless you consider the giant Saharan dust cloud that traveled across the Atlantic. That just means that now is a great time for a few important hurricane season reminders.
Review your hurricane season contingency plans.
One of the blessings of living in the 21st century is that we have the ability to track storms for two weeks before they get close to making landfall somewhere. That means that you don’t have to wait until the last minute to figure out what you’re going to do if a storm comes. In fact, you can start now (or now) getting your plans ready and communicating them with your staff and family.
Your team would really appreciate knowing what to do if there is a storm. They want to know in advance what you expect of them. When should they come to the office? What is expected if they need to stay home, or evacuate? Is there an emergency contact plan to let everyone know what’s happening? For many agents in a hurricane-prone area, there should be a plan to get back to business after the storm because your neighbors will need some help getting their claims started.
As for the family, they need to know what the plan is for the storm. Will you ride it out? Will you evacuate? Do they know which way to go? What about your extended family? Do they know what you’re going to do? Planning ahead takes the thought out of a tough situation. It means that we don’t have to have a long conversation about which decision to make. It’s been made, we just have to do what we had already planned.
Prepare hurricane season gear.
Once you answer the question, “Should I stay or should I go now,” you will need some supplies for that plan. For the office, that means making sure that you have the ability to operate after the storm. What are you going to do about power, phone, and internet? Do you need to keep some water on hand? Do you need to keep extra note pads and printer paper available in case you need to do more manual work than normal? What about a standard claim form that you keep 1,000 copies of, just in case?
With the office taken care of, there’s the matter of making sure that you have the appropriate gear at home, too. Some of the same considerations are necessary. What are you going to do if the power goes out? What are you going to do for water? If you’re staying around, do you have enough nonperishable food to hang around at home for a few days? Don’t forget the snacks. It’s important to make sure that you get to the snack cakes before the storm gets too close. Trust me. I’ve been in the aisle two days before the storm. It’s not pretty.
You also need to consider having two bags ready for two possible major contingencies. You need a bag ready in case you’re out and can’t get home right away and you need a bag ready in case you are evacuating. No one wants to be packing a bag when the evacuation order comes out. That’s too late. Pack your get home bag with things like a change of clothes, maybe a pair of work boots and gloves, just in case your car gets stuck, or you need to help someone lift half a tree off the road on your way home. That evacuation bag should include enough clothes, medicines, and supplies for 3-4 days, up to a week if you like being extra prepared.
Make sure that your evacuation bags and your home (and office?) have things like extra toilet paper, extra batteries, portable phone charges and good cables, and flashlights. You should consider some simple snack foods that will be easy to carry and eat, some cash, and extra gas if you have a safe place to store it.
Be ready to be flexible.
Plan. Prepare. Be ready. Then when the warnings come, be ready to change your plans at the last minute. You may have planned to stay put, but it’s bad enough that someone in your house would feel better about evacuating. Evacuate. You may plan to evacuate, but there’s someone that you need to help and that means staying around. Get ready to wait it out.
There are 1,000 different details that you won’t think about until it’s too late. And others that you’ll need to change at the last minute. That’s cool. Stay calm and work the plan and when it’s time to shift, shift. The route you wanted to take is blocked or flooded. The people you were going to stay with evacuated, too. There are no hotel rooms within 200 miles.
Stay safe everyone. The good news is that while it is hurricane season, baseball season is coming shortly and I think we can all use a little baseball.
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