Disaster/Emergency Tips for Small Businesses

Main-Street-Businesses-resizefrom – SBA.gov – by Ijeoma S. Nwatu

September is National Preparedness Month. When disaster strikes, it’s only natural to want to protect your family and loved ones. Before disaster strikes, it very important to safeguard your small business, particularly if it’s your main source of income.

Think about the following questions:

  • Do you have insurance if a storm was to destroy business property or equipment?
  • Is there an emergency plan for your small business? Does your staff know what to do in an emergency?
  • Have you developed a checklist in the event of an emergency or disaster that outlines specific actions to take to protect your business?
  • Can you access your business records if they were destroyed?

These types of scenarios can happen at any time. Natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes or large-scale emergencies like a health epidemic may have varying degrees of impact on your business operations. No matter what the situation, there are a few necessary steps to take to build your emergency preparedness toolkit.

Create a readiness kit. If electricity is no longer availability or tap water is not safe to drink, you will need alternatives. Keep a kit in your place of business, and include  items such as matches, water bottles, flashlights, batteries, and snacks. Ready.gov has a complete list of basic supplies. Remember, the kit you prepare needs to help you survive for more than 48 hours.

Research and study tips to protect yourself during a natural disaster. The SBA provides specific information on how to prepare for , earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.

Develop a communications plan. In the event of an emergency, your staff will need to know whom to contact and how. Establishing points of contact, a phone tree, or meet up spot in advance will be helpful in disseminating information. Secure backup phones or have a telecommunications system in place. Use social media to keep the public aware you’re still in business, and in the process of rebuilding.

Anticipate disaster assistance needs. Think ahead by knowing how much your property and inventory are worth.   Are you carrying enough insurance to rebuild after the disaster?  If you have disaster losses that aren’t covered by insurance, , considering applying for an SBA disaster assistance loan. These loans can help  businesses of all sizes repair or replace equipment and property that was damaged during the disaster. An SBA disaster loan can also help you cover operating expenses while you recover from the disaster.

Be prepared all-year round by thinking, developing, and communicating a plan to protect your business. Stay safe!

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