As hurricane season nears, small businesses should prepare

NEW YORK — With the start of the Atlantic hurricane season approaching next month, small business owners can expect to hear admonishments from government agencies about getting prepared.Disaster prep is something many owners intend to get to, but it gets pushed down the to-do list by more immediate concerns about customers, employees, finances and suppliers. But owners should think now at least about basic disaster planning, including how to protect their employees, computer data and premises.Meteorologists at Colorado State University issued their first forecast for the season in April, predicting 13 named storms — tropical storms or hurricanes with sustained wind speeds of 39 mph or higher. Five hurricanes are predicted. That compares with the 15 named storms and eight hurricanes in 2018, including Hurricanes Florence and Michael that caused billions of dollars in damage. An average season has 12 named storms and six hurricanes; the hurricane season officially ends Nov. 30.The National Hurricane Center has not issued its forecast yet, but last week it did warn about a tropical system that was expected to bring heavy rains to the eastern Florida coast.Although some preparation can’t be done until the last minute, owners can sign up now with data storage and backup services, update their contact lists for employees, customers and suppliers and check in with insurance brokers to be sure their companies are adequately covered. If they’ve been meaning to buy generators in case the power goes out, this is the time to do it — when a storm is on the way, generators quickly disappear from stores.Owners who want to shelter employees on their premises if necessary should stock up on water and food that doesn’t need refrigeration, flashlights, bedding and battery-operated radios and cellphone chargers.Evacuation planning is harder to do in advance because of the unpredictability of a storm’s path. As Hurricane Irma approached southeastern Florida in 2017, some residents who evacuated to Tampa in expectation the western coast of the state would be spared had to hurriedly move further north when the storm’s course changed. But once owners know where their staffers will be sheltered, they should have a complete list of locations.Businesses in inland places rarely hit by hurricanes should do at least basic planning. As Irma moved north, it hit cities like Atlanta, hundreds of miles away from the ocean.Disaster planning can be highly detailed, and owners may not realize they’re forgetting important aspects of protecting their companies. A number of online disaster prep resources are available from federal and state government agencies, and some include checklists that will help owners decide what they need to do.The sites include:— www.preparemybusiness.org , sponsored by the Small Business Administration— www.ready.gov/business , operated by the Department of Homeland Security— www.score.org/resource/hurricane-preparedness-checklist , operated by SCORE, the organization that provides free counselling for small businesses— www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/15238 , operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency_____Follow Joyce Rosenberg at www.twitter.com/JoyceMRosenberg . Her work can be found here: https://apnews.comJoyce M. Rosenberg, The Associated Press read more

Challenge of covering sustainable development issues focus of UN media panel

Shashi Tharoor Kicking off the debate, Shashi Tharoor, Interim Head of the UN Department of Public Information, which organized the encounter, said sustainable development was a relatively new idea and one that had been evolving over the past decade. And yet, he stressed, it was at the very core of humanity’s value system – how to balance the need for world economic growth with concerns for social justice and environmental protection. “Today’s sustainable development agenda is vast,” Mr. Tharoor said. “It covers issues as diverse as ozone depletion, child labour, and socially responsible investing. The new catch-all term ‘globalization’ is also now a part of the sustainable development equation.” Today’s debate on the theme of “The Media and Sustainable Development” took place against the background of intensive preparations under way at UN Headquarters for the World Summit on Sustainable Development that will be held later this year in Johannesburg, South Africa. Snuki Zikalala, Executive Editor of News for the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which will be the host broadcaster of the conference, said covering such a huge event as the Summit would pose a major challenge for his network in trying to translate the forum’s concepts into language that ordinary people could understand. The SABC was trying to ensure that issues coming from other African countries focused on environmental dimensions and not just poverty and conflict, he said, adding that most of the time development issues did not make headlines and therefore it was difficult to put sustainable development issues onto commercial television stations. The question was how to use the media to discuss complex issues such as sustainable development, said Simone Duarte, New York Bureau Chief for Globo TV of Brazil. In her country, one successful method was inserting environmental issues into soap operas. Another was having environmental campaigns. Both of those initiatives had received great responses from the public, she said. Tim Hirsch, Senior Environmental Correspondent for the British Broadcasting Corporation said that it was difficult to reflect issues in an informative way. Doing so might sometimes be seen as being “preachy” in coverage and therefore would not get on the networks. The big problem with “sustainable development,” he said, was that it had not entered the public conscience, probably because of the lack of implementation on the part of governments. Also taking part in today’s discussion was Jim Laurie, Vice-President of News and Current Affairs for Star TV in Hong Kong, and Barbara Pyle, former Corporate Vice-President of Environmental Policy for Turner Broadcasting in the United States. read more