National Preparedness Month: September
Evaluate Your Disaster Plan
Small business owners are natural planners. You know exactly how you want your business to look six months or a year from now, and you work hard toward your goals every day. Unfortunately, sometimes things may happen that are out of your control – but there are ways you can prepare your business disasters.
National Preparedness Month is recognized each September to promote disaster preparedness for communities, individuals, and businesses. This year’s theme is, “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make your Plan Today.”
Each week will focus on a different aspect of disaster planning. The weekly themes can help guide you as you take stock of and improve your current approach to disaster preparedness.
During National Preparedness Month, many governmental agencies host forums on preparing for severe weather, future COVID-19 interruptions, and other disasters. Focusing on individual and business, how to prepared for and successfully recovered from devastating disasters.
Make a Plan
The first step is to determine which types of disasters are common in your region or your industry and establish a plan for what you will do before, during, and after them. If you are at your business location during a disaster, when and how you should evacuate or shelter in place will depend on the disaster type. Individuals and businesses should also update their existing disaster plans to reflect the FEMA resources, and Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) safety recommendations for COVID-19.
Regardless of the disaster type, you should always know how you will communicate with your employees and other key stakeholders before and during an emergency. Make sure you have up-to-date contact information available remotely for your staff. You may even consider two-way radios or an alert notification system (ANS) if the phone lines are down after a disaster.
Assemble a Kit
Next, gather items you may need on-site during a disaster. It’s essential to have enough supplies in your emergency kit to last you a few days. The essentials will include flashlights, a battery-powered radio, a first-aid kit, non-perishable foods, medicines, and bottled water. The CDC recommends including face masks and sanitizers in your emergency kit to help protect yourself and staff members from COVID-19. Finally, you may also want to keep a backup generator at your business location in case of power outages.
Prepare for Disasters
Check with your insurance provider before a disaster strikes to understand what is covered and follow up with policy upgrades.
Protect your business by making sure important data is routinely backed up and accessible off-site if your computers are damaged during a disaster.
Depending on the disaster type, there are also ways to fortify your physical business location to reduce damage and protect your staff. For example, in preparation for an earthquake, you will want to bolt furniture to walls, install safety latches for cabinet doors, install fire sprinklers, and use hook and loop fasteners to keep computers and other equipment from falling. The Small Business Administration has an emergency preparedness site for more tips and checklists targeting specific disasters.
Teach Youth About Preparedness
This National Preparedness Month theme may not traditionally apply to small businesses. Still, it is an important reminder to ensure that your family and home are just as prepared for disasters as your business. You should have all the same precautions in place to protect your family and personal property from disasters – from homeowners or renter’s insurance to a disaster kit and emergency plans. Make sure everyone in your household – children included – understands what you will do in the event of a disaster.
It’s been a challenging year for small businesses, and we stand ready to support you through obstacles that may come your way. Connect with a local resource to discuss a disaster preparedness plan that will work for your business. And after a declared federal emergency occurs, you may be able apply for disaster assistance at sba.gov/disaster.
Studies show that when employers urge workers to prepare for disasters, employees are 75% more likely to take preparedness actions. Do not wait until a disaster or emergency strikes. Take action now to protect yourself, your family, and your workplace and be prepared for anything.