No matter where your business is located, extreme weather events are always a possibility. Hurricanes and blizzards happen every year, and if you aren’t prepared for the worst the weather can bring, you might be left—so to speak—out to dry. Utilize the following 4 tips if you’re looking to shore up your business’s severe weather response.
An easy first step is weatherproofing in the most literal sense: preparing for the physical, on-the-ground effects of inclement weather. Make sure your packaging methods are water-resistant or watertight if appropriate for the product. This includes labels: if product labels are damaged by rainwater or flooding, it makes the process of inventorying losses that much more painful. Consider using something like Flap Tags to ensure that labels remain legible even if water, heat, ice, or other events damage a shipment. If you have a fleet for shipping or otherwise own vehicles for any part of your logistics, don’t skimp on their maintenance; the middle of a blizzard is the last place you want to discover a dying battery.
Proactive and Reactive
Preparing for something like a hurricane or winter storm must begin well before the weather actually forms. You won’t be able to prepare in time if you start only when the storm hits the radar. Ahead of severe weather seasons, review all contingencies–emergency shelters, evacuation routes, alternate shipping methods and itineraries, anything else that might need to be in your Plan B. Important emergency supplies like generators and protective equipment should be procured well in advance of the relevant season. Waiting for the announcement of a weather emergency may result in limited availability of vital equipment. That said, review the most accurate forecasts as they are published and be prepared to update parts of your contingency plan accordingly. Identify key nodes in your logistics process that are at risk from the most current data available, and take measures at those locations accordingly. It takes proactive planning and reactive flexibility to manage a severe storm safely and effectively.
You might not be in the business of IT, but you almost certainly have business-critical data physically located on servers somewhere. That data is in danger if those servers are damaged, the same as any warehouse full of product might be threatened by flooding or fire, but consider also the possibility of losing access to your intranet or other internal IT systems for an indeterminate amount of time following a severe weather event. This is an attractive feature of moving your business computing to the cloud; by taking advantage of distributed computing, in the event of a physical disruption to a data center (say, from a power surge caused by a storm) you not only protect your data itself but retain access to computing resources during the crisis itself, which in turn broadens the suite of tools at your disposal for communicating and coordinating disaster response within your business.
Climate change mitigation is becoming a cutting-edge concern for logistics across the globe. The reality is that we are likely to face some consequences of climate change in the next few decades. We can expect worse storms more frequently, making proper preparation for those events more crucial, but we can also expect new challenges, such as increased water pressure globally as freshwater sources shrink and relocate with rising temperatures, or changes in broad weather patterns as currents and their attendant atmospheric climate systems shift and change. Right now you can help mitigate those future problems by switching to renewable energy sources and reducing your water and carbon footprints, but you should also expect to make changes to your business in the coming decade as we experience the consequences of the greenhouse effect.
It can be hard to find all of the areas of your business at risk during a large storm or blizzard, which is why preparation ahead of time is so important. Make sure you’re weatherproofing properly, both in the literal sense of water- and wind-proofing your physical operations and in the more abstract sense of preparing contingencies for as many extreme weather scenarios as possible. This is vital to guarantee both the safety of your employees and the smooth operation of your business during and after severe weather.
Author | Emily Forbes
An Entrepreneur, Mother & A passionate tech writer in the technology industry!