When Crisis Strikes: Disaster Preparedness Plans for Small Businesses

Almost 40 percent of small businesses never recover after a natural disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Inches of water can cripple a company with tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Safeguard your company by creating a disaster preparedness plan for how to get back up and running when crisis strikes.

Keep an emergency contact list

Floods, fires and hurricanes could strike at any time leaving your business unprepared for contacting the proper people. Create a list of who to contact in an emergency and distribute to all employees and vendors as needed.

Get in touch with office building managers, employees or vendors who may be working onsite to ensure everyone is safe. Touch base with your clients whether by email or over the phone to tell them about the problem and that the office will be closed.

Develop a fire preparation plan

Three percent of workplace fatalities result from fires and explosions, based on data gathered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Charts. The same report cites fire as the most-common type of emergency for small businesses.

Stock your office with fire extinguishers and create workplace education programs so you can prevent a fire at work before it starts. Invest in annual training for specific employees to work fire extinguishers and arrange for inspection, testing and maintenance of your fire protection systems. Come up with a plan of action. You may want to completely evacuate the office any time an alarm sounds or choose to fight a small fire with an escape route in mind. Hold regular fire drills and practice evacuating. Designate specific employees to take training on using the extinguishers and fire safety.

Invest in flood insurance

Floods are the most widespread natural disaster other than wildfires, and 90 percent of all disasters declared by the President involve flooding. Floods can not only damage valuable equipment and office furniture, but also put stress on walls and compromise the structure of your building. Depending on the extent of the flooding, the water conditions entering your business could be contaminated with chemical waste, sewage and pesticides.

If possible, move your business away from flood-hazard areas, elevate your property or try dry flood-proofing your building. While prevention can save the day, because flooding can happen to anyone, anywhere, it’s crucial to also invest in business flood insurance for added protection. The right policy can help restore your business in cases of heavy or prolonged rains and storm surges. Melting snow, drainage system blockages and levee failure can also cause flood damage and need to be insured appropriately.

Create a back-up plan

More companies are treating natural disasters and malware as a similar risk to their success and network uptime. That means rolling your disaster-related plans into one, whether you’re a victim of flooding or a cyber attack. Speak to your IT department about developing a plan if servers crash or are destroyed by natural disaster.

Brainstorm a plan to keep important documents and files on the cloud so business operations can be restored from anywhere. Consider moving as many business aspects to the cloud and setting up your employees to work from their own devices to keep business moving along as usual when disaster strikes.

Photo Credit: Image provided by Social Monsters with permission to use. 

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