NEW ORLEANS, La. -- Small business owners that prepare in advance for disasters have a greater chance of returning to pre-disaster operating levels. “Prepared businesses are able to recover faster and with less financial loss than those that are not disaster-ready,” said Lee Champagne, federal coordinating officer for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Here are a few things to remember when creating an emergency plan for your business from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Disaster Assistance (SBA).
- Carefully assess the risks (e.g., flood, fire, tornado, etc.) for each specific business location, and plan accordingly.
- Be sure to have adequate insurance to cover all the specific risks at the business site. SBA recommends that each business have an annual insurance “check-up” to be sure coverage is kept up to date. Most hazard insurance policies do not cover flood losses, and separate flood coverage may be necessary. Be sure both the building and contents are covered. In addition, businesses should obtain business interruption insurance.
- Preserving important business records is vital. Be sure to keep current copies of financial data, accounting records, personnel information, marketing strategies, insurance records, inventory information, etc., safely stored at an off-site location. Also, back up computerized records daily, and store the back-ups off-site.
- Maintain a list of telephone and fax numbers of employees, customers, vendors, bankers, attorneys, insurance agents, professional recovery services, equipment rentals and appropriate emergency agencies. Keep a copy of this information at an off-site location. Update this list regularly.
- Establish a means of contacting employees who may have been displaced from their homes by the disaster. Also be sure employees have an alternate method of contacting the business if it is forced from its normal location.
Business owners should review and update these preparedness plans regularly. Business owners are also urged to promote individual and family preparedness among employees. You can do this by including emergency preparedness information in staff meetings or newsletters or other internal communication tools.
For more information on business preparedness and to order free sample emergency plans, business preparedness checklists and more, call 1-800-BE-READY. You may also download disaster preparedness information at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance or www.ready.gov/business.
SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or repairing disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover uninsured and uncompensated losses and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with state and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.