October 23, 2014

Do You Know How to Prepare Your Business for a Natural Disaster?

how to prepare your business for a natural disaster

Hurricane season is here and with it comes the potential for catastrophic damage to small businesses throughout the country. For instance, nearly 19,000 New Jersey small businesses alone sustained more than $8 billion in losses as a result of Hurricane Sandy (PDF) in 2012.

There are also other disasters such as wildfires, floods, tornadoes, electrical fires (even cyber security threats) that can also devastate your business if proper measures aren’t taken to protect your employees, property and equipment.

Below are just a few things you can do to prepare your business for both natural and man made emergencies.

How to Prepare Your Business for a Natural Disaster

Preparedness Assessment

Take a preparedness assessment from the American Red Cross to determine if your business is ready for a disaster. You will need to enroll in the Ready Rating Program before taking the assessment. Sign-up is free and consists of an easy three-part process.

Create an Emergency Preparedness Program

Create an emergency preparedness program for your business using resources from Ready.gov.

The site contains all the information needed to plan, implement, test and improve a preparedness program for your small business. The site also features a free business-continuity planning suite developed by the Department of Homeland Security’s National Protection and Programs and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which provides guidance on how to maintain operations during and after an emergency.

Make Use of Checklists

Download free checklists from PrepareMyBusiness.org.

The checklists can help you quickly plan for a disaster through critical tasks such as making a disaster recovery kit, creating an emergency communications plan, establishing a photo recovery plan, conducting a tabletop test and identifying unique items essential for business operations.

Each month, Prepare My Business hosts free webinars to educate small business owners about planning business continuity and strategizing for disaster recovery. You can access previous webinars as well.

Develop an Emergency Plan

The SBA has resources that will help you develop a plan to protect your business and re-open quickly after an emergency.

Disasters can destroy property and inventory, leading to dire consequences for small businesses. However, proper planning can mitigate damage, allow you to continue operations during emergencies and help rebuild after disasters strike.

Hurricane Sandy Photo via Shutterstock

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US Small Business Administration


US Small Business Administration The US Small Business Administration is an independent federal agency that works to assist and protect the interests of American small businesses by delivering the answers, support and resources small businesses need to start-up, succeed and grow. The SBA Community is an interactive extension of the site and features a variety of discussion boards and blogs that allow business owners to connect with their peers, industry experts and government representatives to ask questions, share best practices and get advice.

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  1. For an online business such as myself, the key is having your hosting with a company that has done this work. That will keep your sites up and running. For myself, the loss of power and internet would be the toughest to deal with. I’d be at the mercy of the utilities and ISPs for potentially long periods of time while they fix infrastructure. The 4G network from cell phone providers would help, but might be overloaded with emergency needs. It’s tough.

  2. Yes. But you still have to prepare yourself from the worst situations. Even if you work at home, there is still the risk of encountering an accident and catching fire. You should plan for these events before you should do anything so that you’re ready when it happens.

  3. If I was involved in a natural disaster, I’d be happy to be alive and with my health intact. I feel everything else can be replaced, but that’s just me, as someone who freelances and doesn’t employ anyone else. I can imagine one having to really take heed and take the necessary precautions if their business was worth more.

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