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
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