The devastation caused by natural disasters has become a part of our daily lives. Surprisingly, most businesses (58 percent) don’t have a disaster plan to help them in a crisis. Developing a written and actionable plan with step-by-step procedures will make a recovery easier and help your business continue to operate in the event of an emergency. Being prepared is also good for your neighbors and the local community. The home improvement store is usually the place people head to for essentials and supplies.
Natural Disasters Are Common Occurrences
Currently, there are 97 active wildfires in 12 states that have burned more than two million acres of land. Many continue to rage out of control despite the heroic efforts of 25,000 wildlife firefighters and 33 management teams.
Then, of course, we must also contend with hurricane season, which runs from June through November. While September is the most common month for hurricanes, August and October are not far behind. To date, there have been 38 hurricanes—three have made landfall in Florida.
Flash floods are another type of natural disaster that frequently catch people off-guard since they tend to be random, and the sizable amount of rainfall is unexpected. In Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, New Mexico, and Arizona, floods have caused deaths and severe property damage. Anyone who lives in the Midwest must be on alert for tornadoes and twisters.
- Prepare an Emergency Operations Plan
Business ownersand employees should know what to expect in the hours and days after an emergency. The emergency operations plan should be in writing to ensure every employee receives the same information and has an opportunity to ask questions or give feedback.
- Explain to employees how they will be contacted—by email, phone, or text messaging.
- Make sure emergency kits are fully stocked, and everyone knows where they are stored.
- Discuss who is in charge if the owner cannot be contacted or is away
- If the physical building is unavailable, is working remotely an option?
- Be sure people are aware of how to evacuate the business by conducting safety drills regularly.
2. Use the Cloud to Store important Data
It’s crucial to store important paperwork or files in a safe off-site location.This includes insurance information, tax forms, and payroll information. Make as many copies as you need. However, the preferred method to secure data is to create backups of electric files using a cloud-based storage system. It’s as simple as scanning, uploading, and syncing the files to store them in the cloud. They will then be available wherever you are located and can also be shared with others.
3. Consult an Insurance Advisor
First of all, make sure to protect your assets with business insurance. Schedule a meeting with an insurance advisor to review your current policy and existing coverage. Check if the limits are high enough to cover the replacement cost of your business. If not, purchase additional coverage that may not be included in the general policy—for example, flood, hurricane, earthquake, etc.
4. Prepare a Crisis Communications Plan
The emergency Operations Plan should also include a section dedicated to crisis communications targeted to employees, clients, and customers.
Employees: It’s essential to keep the lines of communication open with your team. Check to ensure they and their families are safe. Establish an emergency fund to help pay employees and keep them on the payroll if the business temporarily closes. It will make the situation less stressful for everyone and show your care and concern about their wellbeing.
Suppliers: Inform your suppliers about the status of your business as soon as possible. You may need to stop deliveries or change a deadline to meet an obligation your company committed to before the emergency occurred.
Remember, every business needs an emergency operations plan. Small and medium-sized operations are no exception. It’s always better to prepare now for handling emergencies caused by natural disasters rather than “winging it” later.