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Spring storm preparation tips—act now, save money later

TornadoSpring weather is something we all look forward to after a long, cold winter. Warmer temperatures and longer days help spur the natural world out of dormancy, lifting our spirits in the process.

However, spring weather also means the possibility of storms that can bring hail, lightning, high winds, flooding, and tornadoes. These storms can do significant damage to you and/or your business. However, there are steps you can take to mitigate damage and save money in the long run.

Emergency preparedness
The key to weathering spring storms is preparedness. Having emergency procedures in place can help save lives, inventory, and property. Among the items that should be in place are emergency instructions, safety guidelines, and a chain of command. These need to be clear and understood by everyone on your staff.

If you don’t have these in place already, make it a priority, and involve other staff members in the planning process.

Procedures such as tornado drills should be practiced on a regular basis so new staff members are familiar with the routine, and response is automatic should such an event take place.

Be ready for power failures
Storms can lead to power outages, which can impact many aspects of your business. Here are some things you can do ahead of time to deal with power outages:

  • Make sure circuit breakers are clearly labeled
  • Have a generator on hand with adequate wattage to run essential equipment
  • Have fuel on hand for the generator
  • Unplug computers ahead of severe storms
  • Install surge protectors on computer equipment
  • Keep all emergency equipment properly serviced and in working order

 

Back up digital files
In addition to installing surge protectors and unplugging computer equipment before storms, business files should also be backed up on a regular basis with copies kept off site. Having these documents on hand after storm damage offers two benefits:

  • Assists in the restoration of your operation
  • Provides necessary documentation for an insurance claim

Having your files on a dead computer doesn’t do you any good. Taking a little time now to copy files could save a lot of headaches later.

Secure your property
A clean property always looks better in the eyes of customers. But keeping things put away and everything secured is also a good safety measure. Greenhouse structures are made to withstand winds up to 100 mph, but those extra flats and pots will fly around in far less wind.

Here are some other things to do around your property this spring:

  • Make sure all bracing supports and greenhouse coverings are secure
  • Clear drainage systems of debris for the flow of rainwater
  • Pick up loose items on the property so they don’t become airborne
  • Keep an inventory of all plants on the premises

In addition, if you’re warned ahead of time, try to place valuable plants in trucks and trailers and park alongside sturdy structures ahead of a severe storm with strong winds.

After a storm
Dangers can still lurk after a storm, most notably around damaged structures and equipment. Secure damaged structures so customers, random strangers, and even employees can’t enter.

Make any possible temporary repairs to protect crops against the elements, such as fluctuating temperatures, precipitation, or the effects of direct sunlight. That means having extra materials on hand at all times.

Get in touch with your agent
If you incur storm damage, notify your claims department immediately to help ensure a timely and thorough investigation.

Take photos and/or video of the damage to help the claims process. And don’t forget to make a detailed a list of the damaged items, including value and even receipts, if possible.

Review your insurance policy to make sure you have protection for any buildings, structures, vehicles, equipment, personal property, and crops that are part of your business.

Going forward, keep your policy up to date and notify your agent of renovations or new structures on the property. And look into business income or crop income coverage—these help pay for lost profit and continuing necessary expenses.

There’s more help out there
Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. Property owners in all areas should ask their agents if their communities are eligible for the federally backed program. Non-residential property owners can insure their buildings up to $500,000 and contents up to $500,000.

Nursery businesses that predominantly sell plants wholesale are eligible for Federal Nursery Crop Insurance. Among the incidents covered under nursery crop policies are losses resulting from weather conditions, including flooding due to excessive rain. Coverage is available to qualified growers on a year-round basis, after a 30-day waiting period.

Now is the time to look at your current coverage. Your Hortica agent to ready to answer your questions and advise you on the best ways to minimize risk. Contact your agent today.