National Preparedness Month 2018
Did you know that out of all small businesses that close because of a disaster, at least 1 in 4 never reopens? To avoid this fate, small businesses should prepare for severe weather and other emergencies—and there’s no better time than now! September is the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Preparedness Month. This year’s theme? Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How. So take the time to create a plan (or re-evaluate your existing plan) so you can quickly get back to business after a disruption or disaster.
National Preparedness Month highlights three steps for business disaster preparedness:
- Plan to Stay in Business
- Talk to Your Staff/People
- Protect Your Investment
To help with these steps, IBHS, in partnership with the Small Business Administration through a new co-sponsorship agreement, suggests these 5 simple but important recommendations.
1. Know Your Risks
Before making a plan, it’s important to know which natural disasters and severe weather events pose a risk to your location. Use the simple IBHS ZIP Code tool at DisasterSafety.org to learn whether you are at risk for tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfire, floods, or hailstorms. The ZIP Code tool also offers links to free disaster preparedness resources for those specific risks.
2. Create a Business Continuity Plan
For small businesses, time is money. IBHS’ OFB-EZ® (Open for Business-EZ) is a free business continuity tool designed to help small businesses quickly plan for any type of business interruption, so they can re-open faster and get back to business. This tool helps businesses identify essential activities for continued operation during a disruption and create an easy-to-use plan to fit their needs, providing confidence if the worst-case scenario occurs. No previous experience needed. Download at DisasterSafety.org/ofb-ez.
3. Communicate with Staff
Employees are a business’s most valuable asset; therefore, it is imperative to collect and maintain key contact information for staff members. Having current contact information will help you locate staff after severe weather and other emergencies, and help you keep them up to date on the status of the business and how/when they can get back to work. OFB-EZ includes a way to document employee contact and emergency contact information. In addition, to execute your plan successfully in an emergency, be certain to share your plan, its details and assigned responsibilities with the entire staff.
4. Create a Severe Weather Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan
When Mother Nature provides a warning that a severe storm is coming, IBHS’ EZ-PREP™ highlights crucial steps to protect buildings and surrounding property, providing a timetable with specific tasks to perform 5 days before, 72 hours before, 24–48 hours before, during and immediately after the storm, and during the recovery process. IBHS’ EZ-PREP guide helps businesses assign staff responsible for each task and prepare for employees who may need to shelter in place. Download at DisasterSafety.org/ez-prep.
5. Practice and Update Your Plan
National Preparedness Month closes with National PrepareAthon! Day on September 30 when all communities, families and businesses are encouraged to practice their emergency plans, and make sure everyone is ready. Testing is critical to make sure the plan that looks good on paper actually works well when disaster strikes. In addition, for any plan to be successful, it needs to be continually updated as people and operations change. The review process should be scheduled at least annually, if not integrated into every business decision.
Businesses that are prepared for disasters are likely to recover more quickly. National Preparedness Month is a great time to create a plan if you don’t have one. For those who have already taken this crucial step, use this month to practice and update what you have created. By taking preventative action now and throughout the year, business owners can be part of a national movement to prepare for disasters, while also protecting their employees and their business’s bottom line.