Prepare Your Business
Even if your business is not located in a high-risk disaster area, something like a major fire or a chemical tanker truck overturning can greatly affect your company’s business operations. While reports vary, as many as 40% of small businesses do not re-open following a disaster – a result of being unprepared and lacking continuity strategies and backup systems. It’s important for businesses to create strategies, not only ensure the safety of their employees and their physical facility, but also to promote continued operations after emergencies.
When developing a business disaster plan, consider three subjects: human resources, physical resources, and business continuity. It’s also important that you ask the following questions:
- How could a disaster affect your employees, customers and workplace?
- How could you continue doing business if the area around your facility is closed or the streets are impassible?
- What would you need to serve your customers, if your facility were to shut down?
- Have you designated an emergency location to continue business?
Develop a Disaster Plan
- Keep multiple phone lists of your key employees and customers with you and provide copies to key staff members.
- If you have a voicemail system at your office, designate one remote number on which you can record messages for employees. Provide the number to all employees.
- Arrange for programmable call forwarding for your main business line(s). Then, if you can’t get to the office, you can call in and re-program the phones to ring elsewhere.
- If you are not be able to get to your business quickly after an emergency, leave keys and alarm code(s) with a trusted employee or friend who is closer.
- Install emergency lights that turn on when the power goes out. They are inexpensive and widely available at building supply retailers.
- Back up computer data frequently throughout the business day. Keep a backup copy off site.
- Use UL-listed surge protectors and battery backup systems. They will add protection for sensitive equipment and help prevent a computer crash if the power goes out.
- Purchase a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio with a tone alert feature. Keep it on, and, when the warning signal sounds, listen for information about possible severe weather and protective actions to take.
- Always stock a minimum supply of the goods, materials and equipment you would need for business continuity.
- Consult with your insurance agent about special precautions to take for disasters that may directly impact your business. Remember, most policies do not cover earthquake and flood damage. Protect valuable property and equipment with special insurance riders.
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Reduce Potential Damage
The Following Could Greatly Reduce Damages Resulting from a Disaster
- Bolting tall bookcases or display cases to wall studs.
- Protecting breakable objects by securing them to a stand or shelf using hook and loop fasteners.
- Moving large objects that could fall and break or cause injuries to lower shelves.
- Installing latches to keep drawers and cabinets from flying open and dumping their contents.
- Using closed screw eyes and wire to attach framed pictures and mirrors securely to walls.
- Using plumber’s tape or strap iron to wrap around a hot water heater to secure it to wall studs.
You Should Also Consider Having a Professional Install
- Flexible connectors to appliances and equipment fueled by natural gas.
- Shutters that you can close to protect windows from damage caused by debris blown by a hurricane, tornado or severe storm.
- Automatic fire sprinklers.
Furthermore, everyone in your facility should know how to prepare for a disaster and what to do if one occurs. However, you should designate one employee from each work shift to be the safety coordinator. This person will make all decisions relating to employee and customer safety. As well, these designated employees should also know how to contact the owner or operator at all times.
Red Cross Ready Rating Program
You can also join the Ready Rating Program. In fact, the Ready Rating Program provides information and tools in a simple, pro-active way, by providing a cost-free framework for businesses, organizations, and schools to prepare for emergencies