Disaster Preparedness for Your Business

The impact of natural disasters on your business can be catastrophic. Depending on your type of business, identify the risks associated with natural disasters, lay out evacuation and relocation plans, secure your equipment and facilities, and look after your staff.

Natural disasters can strike any time, without any warning. Whether it’s flood, tsunami, lightning, fire, hurricane, or earthquake, disasters can pose a number of challenges to your business, from employees unable to go to work, to the building and facilities getting damaged and not having enough supplies. Sadly, despite the risks, many businesses face natural disasters unprepared, which leads to huge loss and difficult recovery. Disasters can come in all shapes and sizes. Regardless of the severity, your goal is to keep your business in operation while maintaining the safety of your employees and securing your facility. Here’s how to efficiently prepare your business against natural disasters:

If your business is situated in a flood-prone area, creating an emergency plan is the first step. Your primary concern is to secure your supplies and facilities, including all documents and records. Tune in to radio or TV reports for information. Days before the storm warning, start preparing your facility. Do check for gaping holes in your roofs. If you don't have time to call for professionals to have it fixed, installing roof tarps will definitely help prevent leaks. Make sure to position your equipment and supplies to an elevated area. If necessary, have them relocated to a safer place or warehouse. Plan an evacuation route. Because flooding can quickly make roads impassable, determine the which roads should provide you and your employees safe routes away from danger.

Once you hear an official tsunami warning from local authorities, evacuate at once. Check the NOAA Pacific Services Center website to see whether your business is in a tsunami-prone area. Because tsunamis can strike in a snap, identifying your primary risk is critical in order to customize your emergency preparedness plan. For businesses/entities such as restaurants, malls, markets, and factories that contain a large number of customers and employees, the priority should be preventing loss of life. Retail businesses should develop and maintain an updated list of stock and consider insurances for both their stocks and replaceable items. Meanwhile, small offices like law firms should ensure that their documents are secured.

The threat of lightning is not the same for every business. Your location and the kind of building you're housed in are some of the factors to consider. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, skyscrapers are more likely to be struck by lightning. But even small or standalone buildings are at risk. Installing a Lightning protection system is very useful as this device creates a safe path for lightning bolt to reach the ground, preventing the massive danger it can cause to your facility, customers and employees.

In order to protect your facility and your people from the danger of fire, you have to make sure that your business complies with all fire safety requirements in your area. These should include having at least two means of escape. Have your electrical systems regularly checked by professionals, because worn-out outlets are a common cause of fire. Ensure your fire suppression system is properly designed, installed, and maintained. Employee training is essential, too. Employees should know exactly what to do in case of emergencies.

Develop a comprehensive hurricane survival plan. Secure doors, windows, and other openings to prevent water and wind from coming in. Tie down or bring inside all equipment and objects that may be blown away by strong winds. Make sure you have emergency supplies on stock. Disconnect electrical equipment and secure all your items. Temporarily relocate records to a safe storage facility off site.

Work with your staff to develop a protocol for what to do during and after an earthquake. Practicing safety drills is very critical. Check the Federal Emergency Management Agency website to determine how ready your company is for an earthquake or other natural disaster. Be sure to include an evacuation plan, identify emergency exits, and stock emergency kits for your personnel.

Preparation and Recovery
In all cases, consider remote collaboration with your staff so you can continue operating even during a natural disaster. If there's a need for certain people to stay on site, make sure they have sufficient supplies, including food, water, blankets, flashlights, and batteries. Also, find alternate suppliers/vendors in case a disaster hampers delivery on either their end or yours. After the disaster, huddle with your team to talk about your recovery plan and, at the same time, review your current disaster preparation program to know how it can be improved in the future.

The impact of natural disasters on your business can be catastrophic. Depending on your type of business, identify the risks associated with natural disasters, lay out evacuation and relocation plans, secure your equipment and facilities, and look after your staff. While you cannot fully protect your business against these adversities, you can minimize the risk and damage to your building, equipment, and personnel by planning and preparing ahead.

Megan Jones is a writer, a DIY geek, a camping lover, and a happy mom of two who works with Grizzly Tarps. She writes just about anything, from giving advice on how to go about your date to sharing her personal experience in relationship how-tos.