Disaster preparedness strategies can help communities overcome floods, fires, hurricanes, and storms. Many of these strategies focus on helping residents of communities that are prone to storms protect themselves and their homes from the wrath of Mother Nature. But it’s equally important that local business owners take steps to ensure their businesses survive natural disasters. Local businesses can play vital roles as communities try to recover from natural disasters. Such businesses can provide supplies like food and water to residents in need. In addition, businesses that are able to simply open their doors to customers can create a sense of normalcy in a community at a time when that normalcy can be comforting. However, in order to provide such services, businesses must first make it through disasters unscathed, and that takes planning.
• Create a formal written plan. The Insurance Information Institute advises business owners to create formal written plans that detail how the business will respond to and recover from a disaster. This plan may include temporary relocation. Business owners should know where they can go if they need to temporarily set up shop elsewhere in the wake of a disaster.
• Make sure employees know the plan and their roles. Once the plan has been developed, business owners should share it with their employees and go over each employees’ role. Assign responsibilities to staff members and train them so they are fully equipped to handle their role and confront disaster if the need arises. Periodically revisit the plan and go over it again with staff members, conducting drills at each review so everyone is in the best position to respond quickly and effectively.
• Keep emergency supplies on hand. The Insurance Information Institute recommends business owners store flashlights, first-aid kits and battery-powered radios in their businesses. It may also be wise to store food, water and blankets if the business is in a remote or potentially inaccessible location, such as the top of a high-rise. The Insurance Information Institute also notes that keeping generators on hand may help businesses return to operations more quickly than waiting for utility companies, which tend to be overwhelmed with service calls in the wake of disasters or heavy storms, to address power issues.
• Back up key information and data off-site. Cloud computing has made it easier than ever for businesses to protect important data from natural disasters, and business owners should make use of such services. Make sure to store important disaster-specific information that you might need, such as insurance policies and staff phone numbers, on cloud storage or somewhere else off-site so it is not destroyed.
• Do your best to protect the building. Heed warnings from the weather service and board up entry points if a storm figures to be especially violent. Doing so can protect the building where your business is housed as well as everything therein. Businesses that plan ahead for natural disasters can typically get back on their feet quickly after storms come and go.