Businesses can do much to prepare for the impact of the many hazards they face in today's world including natural hazards like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and widespread serious illness such as the H1N1 flu virus pandemic. Human-caused hazards include accidents, acts of violence by people and acts of terrorism. Examples of technology-related hazards are the failure or malfunction of systems, equipment or software. If you are not sure whether your property or business is at risk from a disaster caused natural hazards, be sure to check the MyHazards website.
Every business should have a plan. Business continuity planning must account for both man-made and natural disasters. You should plan in advance to manage any emergency. Be prepared to assess the situation, use common sense and available resources to take care of yourself, your co-workers and your business’s recovery.
Consider evacuation planning, shelter in place measures, emergency supplies – both life sustaining and lifesaving, and communications. Install fire extinguishers, smoke alarms and detectors in appropriate places. Consider the ways in which people, products, supplies and other things get into and leave your building or facility.
FEMA “Emergency Supplies” list. https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1387572158481-3561e0b74b8da0f6deb4424c9a29bbf6/business_emergency_supplies.pdf
FEMA “Emergency Response Resource List” document. https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1388776013801-03b8eb0458eebb58be60fad872a50f23/Business_EmergencyResponseResources_2014.pdf
FEMA “Every Business Should Have A Plan” document. https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1389022685845-7cdf7d7dad7638a19477d01fdbfa820f/Business_booklet_12pg_2014.pdf
Always back up your data. Essential data should be backed up regularly and stored off-site in case of disaster. Another good tip is to have physical copies of contact information for employees, suppliers, and customers.
Designate a secondary location if your primary location is damaged. This will help you get back to business during the recovery phase. Prepare for Utility Disruptions during and after a disaster. Businesses are often dependent on electricity, gas, telecommunications, sewer and other utilities. Carefully examine which utilities are vital to your business’s day-to-day operation. Speak with service providers about potential alternatives and identify back-up options such as portable generators to power the vital aspects of your business in an emergency.
FEMA “Business Continuity Plan” document. https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1389019980859-b64364cba1442b96dc4f4ad675f552e4/Business_ContinuityPlan_2014.pdf
Your employees and co-workers are your business’s most important and valuable asset. Two-way communication is central before, during and after a disaster. Include emergency preparedness information in newsletters, on company intranet, periodic employee emails and other internal communications tools. Consider setting up a telephone calling tree, a password-protected page on the company website, an email alert or a call-in voice recording to communicate with employees in an emergency. Designate an out of town phone number where employees can leave an “I’m Okay” message in a catastrophic disaster. If you have employees with disabilities ask them what assistance, if any, they require. People with disabilities typically know what they will need in an emergency. Promote Family and Individual Preparedness: If individuals and families are prepared, your company and your co-workers are better positioned in an emergency situation. Encourage your employees and their families to: Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed. Go to www.ready.gov for more information.
Detail how your organization plans to communicate with employees, local authorities, customers and others during and after a disaster. Be prepared to provide employees with information on when, if and how to report to work following an emergency. Provide top company executives with all relevant information. It may also be important to update the general public. Inform your customers about whether and when products will be received and services rendered.
FEMA “Crisis Communications Plan” information. https://www.ready.gov/business/implementation/crisis
Inadequate insurance coverage can lead to major financial loss if your business is damaged, destroyed or simply interrupted for a period of time. Review your current insurance coverage. Have your business appraised at least every five years. Inventory, document and photograph equipment, supplies and workplace. Have copies of insurance policies and customer service/home numbers. Obtain Business Interruption Insurance. Consider “Accounts Receivable” and “Valuable Papers” coverage and “Income Destruction” insurance. If you have Business Owners Protection Package, check the co-insurance provisions. Remember: Some disasters require separate coverage. Check your policy.
National Flood Insurance Program, FEMA Dealing with Catastrophes, CA Department of InsuranceEarthquake Insurance for Homeowners, CA Earthquake Authority Commercial Property Owner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety, CA Seismic Safety Commission FEMA “Insurance Discussion Form” document