Business Preparedness: A Checklist

The Small Business Administration says that 1 out of 4 businesses doesn't reopen after a major disaster. We can't afford that in Maine. Here’s a list of tasks – some will cost you nothing – which will leave you more prepared to deal with an emergency or disaster.


  • Learn what kinds of emergencies might affect your company both internally and externally.
  • Meet with your local emergency management director or fire chief to learn about community disaster plans, and inform response organizations about yours. Talk about how your business might be able to assist in the community in a major disaster.
  • Meet with your insurance provider to review current coverage. Talk about what improvements to buildings and systems might actually lower your insurance costs.
  • Create procedures to quickly evacuate and shelter-in-place (stay where you are safely). Practice the plans.
  • Talk to your staff about the company’s disaster plans. Two-way communication is central before, during and after a disaster.
  • Create an emergency contact list, including employee emergency contact information.
  • Create a list of critical business contractors and others whom you will use in an emergency.
  • Decide in advance what you will do if your building is unusable.
  • Create a list of inventory and equipment, including computer hardware, software and peripherals, for insurance purposes.
  • Talk to utility service providers about potential alternatives and identify back-up options.
  • Promote family and individual preparedness among your co-workers. Include emergency preparedness information during staff meetings, in newsletters, on company intranet, periodic employee emails and other internal communications tools.

Under $500

  • Buy a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm.
  • Decide which emergency supplies the company can feasibly provide, if any, and talk to your co-workers about what supplies individuals might want to consider keeping in a personal and portable supply kit.
  • Set up a telephone call tree, password-protected page on the company website, an email alert or a call-in voice recording to communicate with employees in an emergency.
  • Provide first aid and CPR training to key co-workers.
  • Use and keep up-to-date computer anti-virus software and firewalls.
  • Attach equipment and cabinets to walls or other stable equipment. Place heavy or breakable objects on low shelves.
  • Elevate valuable inventory and electric machinery off the floor in case of flooding.
  • If applicable, make sure your building’s HVAC system is working properly and well-maintained.
  • Back up your records and critical data. Keep a copy offsite.

More than $500

  • Make business or systems improvements recommended by your insurance agent.
  • Consider additional insurance such as business interruption, flood or earthquake.
  • Purchase, install and pre-wire a generator to the building’s essential electrical circuits. Provide for other utility alternatives and back-up options.
  • Install automatic sprinkler systems, fire hoses and fire-resistant doors and walls.
  • Make sure your building meets standards and codes. Consider a professional engineer to evaluate the wind, fire or seismic resistance of your building.
  • Consider a security professional to evaluate and/or create your disaster preparedness and business continuity plan.
  • Upgrade your building’s HVAC system to secure outdoor air intakes and increase filter efficiency.
  • Send safety and key emergency response employees to trainings or conferences.
  • Provide a larger group of employees with first aid and CPR training.
  • Consider a program that will allow employees paid leave to volunteer in a community emergency


  • Knowing that your business will weather the storm.

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