18 Point Checklist to Prepare Your Business for Disasters

 In Blog Post, Hank Yuloff, Human Resources

No matter what size your business, from a one-person office to dozens of employees, a disaster (natural disasters such as rain, snow, earthquakes, extreme heat, fires, etc as well as man-made disasters such as a terrorist attack) can rear its head at any time and hurt you. The damage and devastation caused by disasters can present many challenges for your business. Making sure you prepare your small business for disasters can help you avoid some of the potential issues a disaster can cause — and speed up your business’s recovery. To help ensure your business is adequately prepared, check out the following 18-point checklist to prepare your small business for disasters.  We discuss this at our Small Business Breakthrough Bootcamps, and wanted to share some of that information with you here.

Identify a First-Aid Team

One of the main priorities if a disaster occurs is to help keep employees and customers safe. According to the American Red Cross, approximately 10 to 15 percent of your employees should be trained in first aid and CPR. Part of a comprehensive disaster preparation plan should include ensuring employees have this training and are prepared to assist others should an emergency arise.

Have Necessary Safety Equipment at the Ready

From fire extinguishers to first aid kits and smoke detectors, every business should budget for and purchase vital safety equipment. Also, employees should be trained on how to use the equipment in an emergency.

Along with Safety Equipment, have computer back up

Our IT friends always tell us to ‘back up, back up, back up.’  This means that you should have three back ups.  One can be onsite, one can be a removable hard drive that is far from your headquarters, like with a trusted friend across the country, and the third should be in the cloud.  That way you can access from wherever your business finds itself temporarily.

Consider Employees with Special Needs

When installing emergency routes out of your business' premises, make sure to consider employees with special needs, disabilities, and medical conditions.

Be Sure Your Business Has Adequate Insurance

As SCORE advises in its Winter Weather Preparedness Checklist for businesses, and before a storm arrives and causes damage to your business, make sure you have insurance in place that provides coverage against winter, and other, hazards.  Also check out their Disaster Recovery Kit Checklist.

Make Sure Your Insurance Includes Coverage for Flood Damage

If disaster strikes, failing to have the right insurance can cripple a business. Now’s the time to be sure you understand what is covered by your policy. It’s also important to remember that many policies don’t cover flood damage, so it might be good to consider adding flood insurance.

Have Supplies at the Ready

Snow and ice removal supplies should be at the ready during the winter, such as rock salt, sand and snow shovels. The same applies for Earthquake kits if you live in a shake prone area. That way, if an emergency were to occur during working hours, at least employees would be sufficiently prepared.

Write an Emergency Contact List and Keep It Current

Communication plays a vital role if a disaster strikes. Every business should create a communications strategy that includes an emergency contact list with every possible means to reach people associated with the business, including employees, suppliers, and customers.  That means you need to train your employees on communication strategies. Disaster communication strategies should be updated regularly, and employees should be trained on them.

Have a Backup Generator on Site

Your disaster emergency plan should include having a backup generator close by. This way, even if the power is cut due to severe weather or other disaster, you’ll still have access to power.

Have a ‘Plan B’ Location

If your business’ location is snowed in or otherwised damaged by a disaster, and employees are unable to reach it, it is a good idea to have an alternative location ready so you can keep operating. However, that the second location may not be any safer.

Just as an added point here:  when you are putting together a plan for your family, you need a place to gather. We recommend using the closest bus stop to your home. Chances are great that those structures are going to be fine and you can let everyone in the family know that is your rally point if the house / structure is damaged.

Identify and Prioritize Your Business’s Most Important Processes

Part of a comprehensive disaster preparedness checklist should include identifying and prioritizing your business’s most important operations and processes. This includes making sure cash flow is maintained.

Decide Who’s in Charge

Your plan to prepare your small business for  disasters should also include identifying who will oversee what should an emergency occur. It is important employees know the chain of command during an emergency so they know who to contact. You should also have just one person in charge of being the voice when connecting with media outlets.  When your story needs to be told, it should come from one place.

Keep Online Continuity with Cloud Hosting

Losing vital data such as client and employee information can be irreversibly damaging for a small business. Fires and other disasters can wipe out data stored on premises and prevent a business from operating. Maintain online continuity and ensure data is kept safe by storing information in the cloud.  We strongly suggest you use at least two methods of backing up your data.

Review and Prepare Your Supply Chain

Just in case your primary supplier is not available in the event of a disaster, it is be a good idea to have built up a professional relationship with alternative vendors. For example, we found out in our promotional product company that it’s a good idea to place occasional orders with alternative suppliers (pens, coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc) so they view you as an active customer.

Determine Whether Different Departments Will Require Different Procedures

Part of your business continuity plan should include evaluating whether different departments and teams within your workplace require different procedures if an emergency occurred.

Include a System to Warn Employees About Emergencies

When creating a plan on how to respond in emergencies, be sure it includes a system for warning employees about emergencies and how to communicate with local emergency management officials.

Have an Employee Assistance Program

The U.S. Chamber Foundation advises having an Employee Assistance Program in place. It will help your employees deal with the aftermath of a disaster and help return your business to full productivity.

Regularly Test and Update Your Plan

Your simple to implement yet comprehensive plan to prepare your small business for disasters will help minimize the damage and disruption a disaster can have on your business and should be tested and updated at least once each year.

Emergency Checklist for homeDISASTER PREPARATION BONUS TIP:

We have added a checklist to this blog that you can also share with your employees for their home. Since we are big on marketing checklists, this should not come as a surprise.

For more details on how to sufficiently prepare your business for potential disasterous disruptions, call Yuloff Creative at 800-705-4265. You can also go to FreeMarketingConsultation.com and book a free 30-minute information gathering call.

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