Tropical Storm Andrea officially kicked off this hurricane season on June 5, dumping 12 inches of heavy rainfall to some areas, causing localized flooding, with five tornadoes spinning off the storm. Colorado State University researchers predict 2013 will have 18 named storms, with at least nine tropical storms and four major hurricanes hitting the Eastern seaboard. Businesses from Maine to Florida and along the Gulf of Mexico need to know the criteria for closing their office due to a hurricane, but they should also take an all-hazards approach to managing any incident.

The decision for knowing when to close your office shouldn’t be difficult. Whether its due to inclement weather, mass events, or even a power outage — there are certain questions you should know to discuss with your business continuity team and executive stakeholders. Here are a few criteria for knowing when to cancel work:

Is your building legally and reasonably unable to be occupied? If there is no power, you’re not legally allowed to be in it. The threat of power loss is a reason to cancel work. Even if your building has a backup system, it’s built specifically for life safety and won’t keep all the lights on or computers running.

Can your employees travel in reasonable safety? Although you may think it’s safe for you to get from your home to the office, your employees may not live in the same location. If public transportation has been closed, you should follow your local government’s footsteps to avoid taking on unnecessary liability by requiring employees to travel.

If you have an alternative work policy, this allows flexibility if your location is inaccessible. During the 2012 Olympics in London, businesses invoked work from home protocols so employees could be more productive without having to commute along with thousands of spectators. This allowed businesses to keep going throughout the 17 days of games. Hurricanes only last for a three-to-five days, so by giving your team the capability to work from home, by providing wireless cards and cloud-based document storage, you can ensure your people weather the storm.

Preparis exists to help keep your people safe and to keep your business running in the event of a crisis such as a hurricane. Please join us for our webinar “Preparing for Hurricanes: Programs & Resources Used During Superstorm Sandy” this Thursday, June 13, from 2 to 3 p.m. to learn more about canceling work for your employees under the appropriate circumstances. This session will be hosted by our FEMA-certified, in-house emergency consultant, Bryan Hill.

For more information or to connect with our team for help with your business continuity program, email or call at 404.662.2950. Be sure to follow Preparis on Facebook and Twitter plus check out Preparis University to download our hurricane checklist.

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