Every time you look at the news, there seems to be a new devastating natural disaster decimating a community somewhere in the world. It may even begin to feel like there are more natural disasters now than ever before.
Unfortunately, that is exactly right. There are five times as many natural disasters today as there were 50 years ago, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). As the rate of natural disasters continues to rise, ask yourself, ‘are you and your business prepared to deal with the next one?
What are Natural Disasters?
A natural disaster is a negative impact, such as the loss of life or damage to property resulting from a natural hazard. They are sudden and extreme events caused by environmental factors that often have tragic results and may take years to recover. Natural disasters result from natural hazards such as flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, tornadoes, volcanoes, wildfires, and tsunamis.
Certain areas are more prone to experience a natural disaster than others. According to the United Nations, over 50% of natural disasters occur in just three regions of the world—Oceania, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. However, most of the world is affected by some form of natural hazard.
Severe storms and flooding are the most common form of natural disaster in the United States. They are so common that most US citizens, even those who do not live in areas affected, can recall the names of several large storms that have devastated the country. Katrina, a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane that killed 1,833 people and caused 125 billion in damage, is one of the best examples of this.
How Much Do They Cost?
Unfortunately, each year an average of 45,000 people lose their lives to natural disasters. But besides the devastating loss of life that often accompanies natural disasters, the economic impact can also have devastating and long-lasting effects on a community.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States averages around 51.4 billion dollars in economic damage annually from natural disasters. However, according to US federal reports, natural disasters have cost the country 145 billion dollars in 2021, making it the third most expensive year on record. 2021 was a busy year, and most of those costs came from three separate disasters:
- Ida, a Category 4 hurricane that made landfall in Louisiana, took the lives of 107 people and resulted in damages of 75 billion US dollars.
- The Texas Power Crisis during severe winter storms resulted in an estimated 702 deaths and 24 billion US dollars in damages.
- Wildfires in California burned 2.5 million acres of land, killed three people, and resulted in damages of 10.6 billion US dollars.
The Importance of Natural Disaster Preparedness
Disaster response aims to save lives and lessen the economic impact on a community. Some areas have an advantage when preparing because they are frequently affected by the same type of natural hazard. For example, the Atlantic hurricane season occurs each year from June to November, bringing hurricanes, tropical storms, and tropical depressions.
Communities in areas affected know what to do because it happens every year. In addition, local and federal governments can learn and improve on previous experience to ensure they respond efficiently and effectively the next time a natural disaster occurs.
However, those affected less commonly do not have the same knowledge that experience brings. Therefore, anyone who wants to boost their resilience during a disaster must begin to educate themselves if they are to avoid loss of life and damage to property during a natural disaster.
Preparing Your Business for the Next Natural Disaster
Preparing for natural disasters is not just crucial for communities and individuals but also for businesses. It is one of the easiest ways to protect your business and can mean the difference between staying in business and losing everything. Therefore, leaders that want to guard their assets and employees must approach the subject seriously.
Here are a few things you can do to safeguard your company during a natural disaster:
- Understand the different types of disasters that could affect your business and devise a disaster preparedness plan specifically designed to respond to each kind and its unique challenges.
- Designate evacuation routes for emergencies, ensure they are marked and well-lit, and periodically drill them with staff. Then, decide how you will determine that everyone has evacuated safely and what you will do if they have not.
- Establish a communication plan with staff members so that you can share vital information like when to evacuate or when it is safe to return to work.
- Back up important documents and data and determine how you will access them.
- Have a contingency plan for how you will continue to run your business if you cannot return to your facility.
- Identify ways to lessen damage to property and equipment through the use of barriers, sprinklers, or other methods.
- Make sure you have enough insurance that covers all potential natural disasters and protects all assets potentially damaged.
Ensuring Disaster Preparedness with Inspection Management Software
When natural disasters occur, people panic, and sometimes something crucial can slip through the cracks during the rush. However, when your business is on the line, such action is not acceptable. Do not leave your business’s future up to chance. Take a proactive approach toward disaster preparedness.
When you start preparing your business for a disaster, it may feel overwhelming. After all, the stakes are high, and there are many things to plan and collect. Thankfully, inspection management software can simplify the process. This platform allows you to create easy-to-use, customizable disaster preparedness checklists to ensure everything is in place to protect your business and your people.
Are you and your business prepared for the next natural disaster? Build a disaster-resilient workplace with the help of SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor). It’s an easy-to-use inspection management software that lets your team capture consistent data, identify areas of improvement, and share reports across your organization.
Schedule a demo today to learn more about how SafetyCulture and its solutions can help you create a safer and more resilient business.
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