One in four businesses will close after a major disaster according to the Small Business Administration. Taking some preparedness steps – many at no cost – will leave you more prepared for an emergency or disaster.
- Know the emergencies that 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. Let them know how your business might be able to assist in the community in a major disaster.
- Discuss your current insurance coverage with your provider. 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 crucial 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 uninhabitable.
- 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.
- Buy a fire extinguisher and smoke alarm.
- Decide which emergency supplies the company can feasibly provide, if any, and talk to your staff 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 staff.
- 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 system 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 staff to training 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