Since 1980, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has reported 371 distinct U.S. weather and climate disasters with total costs and damages exceeding $1 billion (adjusted for the consumer price index to 2023). The cumulative expenses associated with these occurrences have exceeded $2.615 trillion. NOAA has also acknowledged that the frequency and financial impact of these disasters have grown over time, citing various contributing factors such as climate change, the location and construction of properties, and the value of the structures being developed.
Within a span of only eight months, the U.S. experienced an unprecedented 23 weather and climate disasters with billion-dollar impacts, surpassing the previous record from 2020 (22 disasters). There were 18 billion-dollar disasters comprised of severe storms, two floods, one tropical storm cyclone, a winter storm and a wildfire. Aside from the significant financial losses, these tragically led to 253 direct and indirect fatalities. As a result, NOAA has officially declared 2023 the most disaster-stricken year in U.S. history.
Properly preparing for natural disasters is essential for the wellbeing of employees, the protection of assets and uninterrupted business operations. Use these suggestions to effectively equip your business for natural disasters.
Create a comprehensive disaster management strategy. Formulate a disaster preparedness and response plan that is tailored to your company’s unique needs and location. Identify potential natural disasters that may pose a threat to your area (e.g., hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes) and determine their probability and impact.
Organize an emergency response team. Establish and train a well-organized team that’s accountable for executing a disaster plan. Ensure each team member is fully aware of their respective roles and responsibilities during crisis situations.
Prioritize employee safety: Ensure employee safety remains a top priority by offering comprehensive training on disaster preparedness and first aid. Establish a robust system that allows for the monitoring of employees’ whereabouts during an emergency.
Build a communication plan. Create a robust communication strategy to effectively notify employees, customers, vendors and stakeholders in the event of a disaster. Emphasize the importance of utilizing redundant communication channels (e.g., backup power sources) to prevent interruptions of information distribution.
Protect your data. Regularly back up crucial data and securely store it offsite or in a reliable cloud platform. Establish and enforce disaster recovery protocols to reinstate essential IT systems and data.
Ensure facilities are secure. Implement measures to retrofit buildings, enabling them to withstand various potential disasters (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes). Some recommended measures include:
- Constructing structures that are designed to withstand earthquakes
- Installing hurricane shutters
- Safely securing equipment and heavy items within buildings
Obtain proper insurance coverage. Perform a comprehensive evaluation of your insurance policies to ensure sufficient protection from various natural disasters. Familiarize yourself with the specific limitations, deductibles and exclusions outlined in your policy.
We’re Here to Help Protect Your Organization Against Natural Disasters
Businesses must remain constantly vigilant and adaptable in the face of mounting natural disasters. The key to success is being fully prepared to quickly respond and minimize the negative impacts on operations and safeguard the wellbeing of employees. Connect with a member of our team for additional risk management considerations.