Protect your business from severe weather events including fires with these precaution checklists to action ahead of a threat and guides for how to be prepared for emergency conditions.
Cyclone ‒ quick guide to protecting your business in the event of a cyclone
Northern areas of Australian including Far North Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia are prone to cyclones, and although it’s not typical they have occurred in other parts of Australia also.
The combination of driving winds and torrential rain are a threat to business owners’ property and cause loss of revenue from interruption to normal trading or prevention of access.
When to act and what to do
Businesses in areas that are prone to cyclones should have a permanent emergency plan, and allow sufficient lead time to maximise protection against cyclone conditions. Also check your insurance cover ahead of cyclone season so you know what it covers and to ensure your replacement values are up to date.
In the instance of a cyclone the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issues tropical cyclone advice when wind gust speeds are expected to exceed 62 kilometres an hour, and issues warnings 24 hours ahead of the anticipated onset of gale force winds, advising the intensity of a cyclone on a scale of 1 to 5, based on the wind speed severity.
Before vacating your business premises to take shelter
turn off electricity, gas and water, and unplug appliances
park vehicles under cover
secure external doors and windows
secure external items that could be blown about
keep your pre-packed emergency kit with you
know your destination, the route you should take and have your vehicle fuelled up and pre-packed
if you are caught in transit stop somewhere that is clear of water courses, trees and power lines, and stay in the vehicle
if you are unable to leave in time take shelter in the strongest part of the building, clear of any windows: the basement, toilet or a hallway
check via radio for status updates or new directions.
Flood ‒ quick guide to protecting your business in the event of a severe flood
In floods conditions can change rapidly, especially in areas prone to flash flooding: low lying land, valleys and natural and manmade waterways. They can be triggered by storm surges or heavy rainfall.
To find out if your area is prone to flooding check your local council or state emergency service records. Also ensure your business insurance covers you for flood damage and if not, whether cover is available.
When to act and what to do
Flood warnings are issued by the BOM and are escalated to a flood evacuation warning when your area and its access routes are under threat. Because of the speed of flood water movement it’s important to be aware of the history of flooding in your area, and to monitor communications issued by the authorities for directions on the actions you need to take.
If you receive a flood warning and have time
clear drains of debris
secure heavy items that could cause damage inside and outdoors
turn off electricity, gas and water at the mains
move hazardous substances to a higher level
relocate equipment, stock and documents to a higher level
make copies of essential documents and take them with you in a waterproof container
leave the doors open
have an emergency evacuation plan and route to safety for yourself and staff.
Storms ‒ quick guide to protecting your business in the event of a severe storm
Severe storms can occur in any part of Australia and may bring thunder and lightning, gale force winds or damaging hail. Strikes involving large hailstones can cause significant damage, especially to roofs, windows and vehicles.
Having a storm response action plan in place is well worthwhile, such as having an emergency generator and key business information backed up to the Cloud. If applicable, check that your insurance cover for property damage includes external buildings, fences and stock.
When to act and what to do
Hail warnings are usually issued in advance of storms, allowing time to take protective measures and shelter under cover.
If there is impending hail or severe storm warning, protective measures you can take include
- maintain roofs and sarking
- park vehicles under cover
- protect vehicles and outdoor equipment with secured tarpaulins
- secure external doors
- close window coverings to prevent broken glass blowing inside
- move exposed stock indoors or make arrangements to protect it
- disconnect all electrical items
- secure loose items outdoors around premises such as business signs
- prepare an emergency evacuation kit.
Bushfire ‒ quick guide to preparing your business for a bushfire threat
Bushfires have always been a risk in Australia, and higher temperatures with prolonged drought and climate change factors have contributed to conditions that spark hard to control fires, with heat, winds and dry fuel each adding to the higher risk of bushfire impact.
Wherever you are in the country you can ascertain your bushfire attack level (BAL) which classifies your property into risk categories according to your region, surrounding vegetation, surrounding clearance and the slope on the property, and provides fire retardant recommendations.
Acting on this bushfire risk preventions should improve your business property’s risk and is viewed favourably by insurers because it could help protect your assets, your business ‒ and in extreme conditions, your life.
When to act and what to do
Take preventative measures before bushfire season starts by ensuring your insurance cover is up to date and that your business property is clear of hazards. It’s also advisable to have an emergency kit packed in case of evacuation alerts.
If a fire is approaching, you and your staff should leave the premises while you still have access to a place of greater safety.
Before fire season starts
review your business insurance cover to ensure any recent large purchases are recorded. if you live on a property, check that your fences, gates and outbuildings are included
also review your sums insured: are they adequate for a complete rebuild at today’s costs?
keep your business data backed up regularly
can other key items or valuable stock easily be moved to safety?
keep your roof and gutters clear of debris
check your roof and seal any gaps to protect against an ember attack
store flammable materials safely and securely, moving hazardous substances away from your building
have a staff safety plan in place for timely evacuation of the premises
if there is time when threatened by bushfire hose down the exterior of your building(s), concentrating on filling the guttering on the roof, if applicable.
We’re here to help
Your insurance broker can help you review your business insurance to ensure you have adequate coverage and please get in touch if you need any support.
Official contacts for help in an emergency or disaster situation
- Police/Fire/Ambulance: 000
- SES assistance in floods and storms: 132 500
- Police attendance: 131 444(all states except Victoria)
- Bushfire response – https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/help-emergency/bushfires
- Gallagher Australia24/7 claims 1800 254 287 hotline. Alternatively use our online claims report form to log a case with us.
Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and benefits consulting services for clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance and/or risk management perspective, and offer broad information about risk mitigation, loss control strategy and potential claim exposures. We have prepared this commentary and other news alerts for general information purposes only and the material is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, legal or client-specific risk management advice. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. The information may not include current governmental or insurance developments, is provided without knowledge of the individual recipient’s industry or specific business or coverage circumstances, and in no way reflects or promises to provide insurance coverage outcomes that only insurance carriers’ control.
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