AUSTIN, Texas -- The better you protect your business before a hurricane, the quicker you can get back in business after it all blows over.
That's vital, because small businesses are the backbone of their local economy. A disaster-ready business will be able to recover faster and suffer less financial loss. Even more importantly, a quickly recovered business is good for the local economy, enabling employees to return to work as soon as possible, and providing vital supplies for a community working hard to get back on its feet.
The best time to respond to a disaster is before it happens. A relatively small investment of time and money now may prevent severe damage and disruption of life and business in the future.
Based on information gathered from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the Texas Governor's Division of Emergency Management (TXGDEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), here are some tips to help business owners do their best to prepare for the worst:
Compile a disaster supply kit including
- food, (canned goods, non-perishable, ready to eat);
- water (one gallon per person per day);
- manual can opener and other eating utensils;
- personal hygiene items such as soap, deodorant, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste, toilet paper, and
- a first aid kit.
Make a plan:
- Determine what production machinery, computers and other essential equipment is needed to keep your business open. Store extra supplies offsite, and make a plan for a temporary location if your company is forced to relocate after the disaster.
- Make back-up copies of all vital business records on computer hard drives, and store the records at an offsite location at least 100 miles away.
- Develop a communications strategy. Keep current phone numbers for your suppliers, employees, customers, utility companies, local media, and emergency agencies.
- Keep at least one corded phone connected to a wall jack to ensure that your business has telecommunications service in the event of an electrical-only outage.
- Make sure members of your staff know how to turn off the electrical power, water, gas, and other utility services at main switches.
- Identify outside equipment and furnishings which could be blown loose and may
become deadly missiles in hurricane winds. Determine where they will be stored
or how they will be secured in-place.
- Subscribe to a resilient high-speed Internet service, such as satellite broadband, so your inbound e-mail, product orders and other business critical information can be maintained should your terrestrial network fail.
- If you believe you are in jeopardy of losing service for an extended period of time, put your web hosting provider on alert, and find out what plans your provider has in place to support your business and data during the disaster.
- Have a back-up generator and plenty of batteries on hand.
As a hurricane approaches:
- Monitor TV or radio news reports for information and official instructions.
- The first important decision is whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate.
- Fill vehicle fuel tanks and obtain fuel for the emergency generator, if you have one.
- If you plan to protect equipment in-place, move it to well-protected interior rooms on floors above the level of potential flooding.
- The first priority in protecting your facility will be to keep the wind out. If you do not have storm shutters, ensure you have the necessary tools to board up windows and brace doors.
- Strongly anchor portable and light-weight storage buildings.
- Make sure rooftop equipment such as exhaust fans, wind turbines, and air-conditioning units are ...