How Business Owners Can Prepare for Disasters

If a natural, human-made, or public health disaster were to happen today, would your business survive? Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports 40-60% of small businesses never reopen following a disaster.

You’ve invested your time, money, and heart into your business. You should also invest in an emergency preparedness plan to ensure you  have the best chance at full recovery. Here are five steps to follow.

1. Assess your preparedness

Take the Ready Rating Program from the American Red Cross to assess how prepared your business is in the event of an emergency. Enroll at readyrating.org.

2. Get the right insurance

Carefully review your insurance  policies  to make sure you have adequate coverage. Keep in mind, many insurance policies do not cover earthquake or flood damage. Visit the Small Business Administration’s website at sba.gov for tips on choosing the right insurance.

3. Train your employees

Train  your  employees  in  basic  first  aid  and CPR  techniques.  Sign  up  for  classes  with your local American Red Cross or Community Emergency Response Team.

Create an emergency response team where employees understand   their roles in an emergency. Share external emergency resources with  employees that can provide assistance during or after a disaster.

Visit lacounty.gov/emergency for L.A. County’s Emergency Survival Guide, a listing of  local  agencies  that  can  help  during  an emergency, and to enroll in Alert LA County to be notified of local emergencies.

4. Prepare emergency supply kits

You should have food, water, and other supplies to last for at least three days. Your kit should be easily accessible and ready to grab and go. It should include:

  • Water (one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation)
  • Food (at least a three-day supply of non- perishable food)
  • Can opener for food
  • Eating utensils
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust or filter masks
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with charger (solar)
  • Plastic  sheeting  and  duct  tape  (to  seal rooms)
  • Moist towelettes for sanitation
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Prescription medication and glasses
  • Feminine supplies

5. Develop a business continuity plan

Create a business continuity plan ahead of time to lessen stressful decisions in the face of a disaster. Follow these steps:

Do a business impact analysis

A business impact analysis predicts the consequences that disruptors like a utility outage, lack of adequate staff and more can have on your business. Check out a sample worksheet here.

Identify recovery strategies

Identify an alternate facility where you can run your business. Back up your important data (suppliers, customers, finances) regularly. Get a sample IT recovery plan at ready.gov/business/implementation/IT.

Develop your plans and test them out

Now that you know what could severely impact your business in a disaster, make a plan on how you will prepare for the worst.

Determine what you want to accomplish with your emergency response plan. Establish evacuation routes, resources you’ll need to respond  to  the  emergency, and  the  framework of how  you’ll  stay in touch with employees, customers,  etc.  Check out this link to help map out your plan.

Test your plans with employees and adjust as necessary. Hold regular  drills so that everyone becomes more accustomed and comfortable with the plan. Update contact information and trainings consistently.

For details about creating a plan, visit: ready.gov/business.

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