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It’s Hurricane Season. Are You Prepared?

HurricaneTropical Storm Hermine may do more than ruin your Labor Day Weekend plans. After battering Florida’s gulf coast as the first hurricane to make landfall in 11 years, the weakened-but-still-potent storm is set to make a run up the East Coast. And in the Pacific, Hawaii is bracing for Hurricane Lester. The aftereffects of both storms may cause heavy rains, high winds and rough surf that will wreak havoc on travel plans and barbeques, could down trees and powerlines, and cause structural damage to buildings. The best thing you can do? Be prepared.

So what do you and your family need?

  • Cash. Be sure to have cash on hand. If there is a power outage, you may not be able to get to, let alone access, cash from an ATM or bank.
  • Evacuation Route. Know your nearest evacuation route, especially if you live near water as storm surge is the biggest threat as a result of a hurricane.
  • Water. Have enough water on hand for everyone in the house plus pets. A good rule of thumb is one gallon per person, per day for 3-7 days. Additional water may be needed for cooking or bathing.
  • Food. Have enough non-perishable food items on hand for 3-7 days. This includes paper plates, utensils, can openers, and baby food and formula if necessary.
  • First Aid Kit. Make sure it is fully stocked.
  • Radio. Have a battery operated or crank radio available.
  • Flashlights. Make sure you know where they are and test them before a storm hits.
  • Extra batteries. Find out what size batteries radios and flashlights require and stock up.
  • Toiletries, including baby wipes, in case you are unable to bathe for a few days.
  • Medications or specialty supplies. The elderly, babies or people with special needs may require additional items for their safety and comfort.
  • Pet supplies. Be sure to have pet food, medication, and other items.
  • Games. Make sure you have a deck of cards, board games and other non-electronic, not-internet dependent means of passing the time.

Additionally, make sure important documents—social security cards, insurance documents, marriage licenses, birth certificates—are in a waterproof box and out of a potential flood area. You might also want to review your homeowner’s policy to know what is covered in the event of storm damage and survey your house to see if anything needs to be secured.

What about your business or organization?

  • Plan ahead. Be sure to have a business continuity plan in place and identify a core team to handle critical tasks.
  • Distribute home phone numbers and addresses. Be sure you have a way to contact your employees and they have ways to get in touch with one another in the event of a disaster.
  • Be in touch with staff, clients, and key business partners. Text messages may be your best bet, provided mobile networks are up and running.
  • Establish a backup location for operations. In the event of a severe storm, like Hurricane Katrina, businesses may need to relocate to keep operating.
  • Be sure you have a way to keep money going in and out. Establish a relationship with a bank in another area in case local banks are inaccessible. This may not be a problem for larger organizations but smaller businesses may need to consider this option.

For more information on how your organization or business can prepare for a hurricane or other disaster, read this AICPA Insights blog post or access this guide from the AICPA and the American Red Cross.

Lauren J. Sternberg, Communications Manager-American Institute of CPAs.

Hurricane courtesy of Shutterstock.

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