IBHS’ New Emergency Preparedness Tool Helps Small Businesses Weather Disasters

Jo Newton, APR
(813) 422-9906

TAMPA, May 5, 2016 – As part of National Small Business Week (May 1–7), which recognizes the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners and employees, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) is distributing free copies of EZ-PREP, its new emergency preparedness and response planning guide for small businesses.

“More than 50 percent of Americans work for small businesses, which create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. Ensuring those businesses can avoid disruptions by preparing ahead of time and having a business continuity plan in place is critical,” said Gail Moraton, IBHS business resiliency program manager. “Small businesses are particularly vulnerable during any kind of disaster, but especially during severe weather events like hailstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires, because they often have all of their operations concentrated in one location.

“IBHS’ new, free EZ-PREP toolkit (DisasterSafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/ez-prep-ibhs.pdf) will enable small businesses to plan ahead so they are prepared for a variety of operational disruptions. While the highest priority is always employee safety, it also is important to reduce property damage and economic loss, which using this guide will facilitate,” said Moraton.

“We know from experience that communities with residents and business owners who are prepared for disasters are far more likely to suffer less damage and recover quicker than those who are not prepared. EZ-PREP provides small businesses with the tools they need to take action to increase their preparedness, which is imperative to community resilience,” explained Moraton.

One of the most useful features of EZ-PREP is that actions are organized chronologically. If a business has advance warning of an extreme weather event such as a hurricane or a severe storm front expected to hit their area, this tool walks users through what should be done five days before, 72 hours before, 24–48 hours before, during and immediately after the event, and during the recovery process.

What Businesses Should Include in an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan

  • Develop best practices to be taken before, during and after an emergency, along with actions to address unique challenges that are specific to your business’s facilities and operations, and the risks you face.
  • Consider non-weather-related threats and risks in addition to severe weather, including those that stem from the nature of your business, such as hot work operations, metalworking and woodworking, manufacturing, handling and storing flammable liquids, plastics storage, cooking equipment, refrigeration systems, and other business-related risks of greatest concern to your business. Plan for the highest ranking threats as soon as possible.
  • Inspect the vulnerable areas of your physical property, including building envelope (roof, windows, walls and doors), surrounding premises, worksite layout and emergency systems, to ensure your plan protects the most vulnerable assets and operations.
  • Identify and implement the steps needed to protect people and property. Most storms and many other types of natural hazards can be tracked and monitored, which allows for at least some preparedness planning. However, when that is not the case, emergency planning will help make businesses more resilient and better able to withstand an event that happens without warning.
  • Customize the EZ-PREP checklist template for your business. Use the template (DisasterSafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/ez-prep-checklist-template-ibhs.xls) to create a plan tailored for your business, including preparedness and recovery actions and tasks, team members’ responsibilities, and alert levels to fit your business and building needs.

Open for Business-EZ (OFB-EZ®) and EZ-PREP Go Hand-in-Hand

OFB-EZ® (DisasterSafety.org/ibhs-business-protection/ofb-ez-business-continuity) is IBHS’ free business continuity tool designed to help even the smallest businesses plan for any type of business interruption so they can quickly re-open and resume operations following a disaster. With its non-technical language and streamlined layout, any business owner can create a recovery plan tailored to the individual business, providing confidence if the worst occurs.

“IBHS urges businesses to implement both OFB-EZ® and EZ-PREP as part of National Small Business Week. Maximizing time and focusing energy is vital during any emergency situation. Having an emergency preparedness and response plan as well as a business continuity plan in place will enable small businesses to respond quickly and effectively, and recover as quickly as possible. By taking this action, business owners will help make their communities more resilient, while also protecting their employees and their business’s bottom line,” Moraton concluded.

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About The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)

IBHS mission is to conduct objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss.