Posted: 9/15/2017

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It is imperative that businesses have a plan in place to deal with emergencies and to keep that plan updated. This article will discuss resourceful ways businesses can plan to deal with disasters and where to look for help and guidance.

flooded street

Major disasters can strike suddenly. Even with warnings, it may be difficult to brace yourself for when catastrophes occur. Businesses are often hit hard and strongly impacted when emergencies, both natural and man-made, occur. Many businesses are unable to reopen, oftentimes due to being unprepared. It is imperative that businesses have a plan in place to deal with emergencies and to keep that plan updated. This article will discuss resourceful ways businesses can plan to deal with disasters and where to look for help and guidance.

Securing Financial Records and Other Important Documents

Financial records, tax information, and other important documents can be electronically scanned to secure the information. If an emergency occurs, you may not have time to retrieve paperwork or it may be destroyed. Having electronic access to important information such as tax records, W-2s, invoices, contracts, etc. is vital. Make sure to backup electronic files and have them stored in a safe place, perhaps even making duplicates and storing them in a separate secure location.

Business Equipment and Valuables

Keep a list of belongings and business equipment. If insurance claims need to be filed, this information will come in handy. In addition to recording the items, photograph or videotape the contents and store them in a safe place.

Emergency Planning

There are different threats and hazards that may affect a business. Considering all potential hazards will help better prepare for a variety of circumstances. When planning, think about what hazards cause injury, damage property, can disrupt business, or have an environmental impact. Reflect on different scenarios that may occur and plan accordingly. Every business should have a plan in place to protect employees, visitors, and anyone at their facility. This should include evacuation plans, shelter, lockdown procedures, etc. to ensure the safety of all. Have resources such as first aid kits, backup generators, water, and supplies on hand can prove to be extremely valuable. Discuss emergency plans with staff.

Preparing Your Facility

Create an emergency contact list. Also, gather a list of contractors or vendors that can be used during an emergency. Speak with your insurance provider to review your coverage. If possible, consider adding additional insurance for floods, earthquake, or business interruption coverage. Talk to your utility company about backup options and alternatives if service is interrupted. Know how to turn off utilities if necessary. Keep fire extinguishers and smoke alarms maintained. Utilize anti-virus software and firewalls to secure computers. Make sure buildings are up to code. Consider upgrading the HVAC system, fire hoses, sprinklers, and security systems. It may be a good investment to provide some or all employees with first aid and CPR training as well. Communication is vital during these times so have cell phones, walkie-talkies, or other devices to help keep in touch with others.

Back to Business

Getting back to business after a disaster often depends on how businesses plan ahead. When thinking about continuing operations, determine which people, resources, and procedures are needed to keep the business running. Have plans in place to continue payroll and accounting. If your place of business is not accessible, can business be conducted from another location? Perhaps there is another firm or company that can serve your clients if you are not able to resume business right away. Look into these options beforehand to make the process a little easier should you need to utilize any alternatives.

Getting Assistance

Financial assistance is available for businesses in need. Resources such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Small Business Association, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture can provide funds to assist while dealing with the aftermath of a disaster. Loans and grants are available to help with property loss or damage and economic injury, as well as other assistance and tax provisions to aid those in need.

Cleaning up after a disaster is also a concern to consider. Check with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for cleanup tips.

While there is no way to completely prepare for a disaster or emergency, developing a plan, implementing it, and keeping the plan updated can make a difference in whether or not a business is sustained or recovers should a serious event occur.

About Business Consumer Alliance

Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.

Tags: disaster, business practices

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