When it comes to disasters, you want your business to beat the odds. According to FEMA 40-60% of businesses will close permanently after a disaster. It is vital that plans are made to ensure your business is ready for emergency situations. Making preparations now is the best safeguard from potential risks and damages. Take a look at our top tips to prepare your business for an emergency.
Know the Risks
- It’s important to know what types of disasters are most likely to affect your area. This can range from weather related storms to wildfire risk. Identify the largest threats and start by preparing for the most imminent threat first. Work your way down from there.
- Always consider all aspects of business functions. Think about where goods, data, or paperwork are stored.
- FEMA offers a great risk assessment tool here.
- Be sure you are protected from substantial losses. If you have business insurance be sure you’re properly covered for possible disasters that may affect you.
- Business interruption coverage is an addition you may want to consider. It may help in the event that you’re temporarily unable to do business after a loss.
- Insurance needs will vary for each business. Talk with your insurance agent so they can help you get the proper coverage for your needs.
Develop a Plan
- Create a disaster response plan. This should include how you will protect your property and employees during severe weather or other natural disasters. Plans should be reviewed annually. Ready.gov and FEMA offer amazing resources to walk you through the planning process. These trusted resources will help you to fine tune your plan, so it fits into your business needs.
- Create a sheet with emergency contacts. Include contacts for building supervisors, other tenants, water restoration services, plumbers, and anyone else you may need to contact in case of an emergency or closure due to damages.
- Create a Business Continuity Plan. The plan should include how you will do business with as little downtime as possible in the event of severe or catastrophic weather. Ideas and resources for these plans can be found here.
Practice the Plan
- All employees should be knowledgeable about any emergency plans. Be sure they are well informed about protocol for before, during, and after storms. They will also need to know when it is safe to return to the building.
- Trainings exercises will help you figure out what works and what needs to be adjusted in your emergency plans.
- Live rehearsals and tests should be run regularly and will be the best way to keep your plan up to date and functioning smoothly. These practices will ensure that if the disaster does occur, everyone will be comfortable carrying out protocols, procedures, and responsibilities.
- Plans should be regularly updated, with changes being made where necessary.
Protect Documents & Data
- Backup all important data to an external hard-drive or cloud-based system. Store critical documents, paperwork, and plans in a waterproof safe or filing cabinet placed a few feet above the ground.
- The IRS offers great information for businesses on how to best protect important documents and data.
Trust & Consult the Experts
- There are some amazing online tools and resources available to help businesses prepare and build plans for emergencies. Ready.gov offers toolkits, workshops, and videos with loads of information and easy to use materials. FEMA also offers booklets, materials, and tools on how to make proper plans and put in place procedures.
- Other helpful resources include: Red Cross ,U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Having a good plan means fewer days without business, greater potential for an insurance settlement, and better communication with employees and customers. The last thing you want is for a disaster to affect the success of your business. We can’t always avoid disasters, but we can prepare for them. Effective preparations for an emergency are a vital part of owning any business. Having a plan in place and getting things in order will be the best safety net should an emergency occur.
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