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Business Preparedness

As any business owner can attest to, time is money. When business is disrupted it costs money. When the disruption is due to a disaster there are extra expenses and less revenue.  Your insurance will not cover all the costs, and the customers cannot be replaced. Developing a plan that protects your employees and lessens the financial impact following a disaster is a key to your business's recovery following a disaster.  It is important to note that the opening your business quickly following a disaster greatly contributes to the economic recovery of your community.

According to FEMA, up to 40% of businesses do not reopen following a disaster, 25% more small businesses will close 1 year later, and 75% of business without a continuity plan will fail within 3 years of a disaster. While the statistic is astounding, most businesses do not have preparedness plans in place.  Do you want your business to be a statistic, or a leader in the revitalization of your community following a disaster?

Ready Business assists businesses in developing preparedness programs by providing the tools necessary to address all the hazards that may impact your business. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has some excellent resources for your business regarding disaster planning, cleanup, and recovery planning.

FEMA also has a collection of resources that can assist in analyzing the costs associated with disasters, insurance information, and various case studies.   

Keys to implementing a successful preparedness plan:

  • The program must not only managed and planned, but tested and exercised as well. This allows for analysis of any overlooked procedures or other gaps that may be present in the plan.
  • Remember that emergency preparedness plans are fluid, which means that they are constantly changing and need a regular review and evaluation.
  • Make sure you include a schedule to accommodate the fluidity of your plans.

Five Tips for Business Owners:

  1. Have a plan in place for you and your employees prior to hurricane season.
    • Stress the importance of having a basic emergency supply kit.
    • Identify roles and responsibilities within your organization.
    • Under what circumstances would you consider closing early due to a hurricane? Develop a protocol for closing early.
    • Create a communication plan addressing dissemination of information to employees (who, how, and when).
    • What are your expectations for employees?
    • Create a plan to communicate status with customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. – make sure you have all contact information on hand.
    • Practice the plan with your employees and consider having a tabletop exercise.
  2. Make sure all critical data is backed up and is accessible remotely.
  3. Be prepared to work remotely. If your business needs to continue through or resume immediately following a storm, make sure you and your employees have all the necessary tools to work remotely for an extended period of time.
    • Set priorities on what operations or organization needs to recover following a disaster.
  4. Inventory business assets regularly and make sure you have the right insurance in place.  Most standard CGL policies do not cover flood losses. Ask your insurance agent about business interruption coverage.
  5. Protect your facility and equipment.
    • Are there records and equipment that should be moved?
    • Can you elevate your utilities? 
    • Can equipment or other assets be moved indoors or to higher ground?
    • Have the trees surrounding your building been trimmed?
    • Is the roof of your building secured? 
    • Have you considered storm shutters or other protective measures?
    • Are your signs, fences, flagpoles, etc., secured?
    • Make sure you turn off and unplug all noncritical devices/electronics.
    • If feasible, disconnect main electrical feed and water to facility. 

If the Area Where your Business is Located is Evacuated:

  • Follow all evacuation orders.
  • Wait for public officials to announce that it is safe before you return to the area.
  • Sign up for AlertJax powered through Everbridge.
    • AlertJax is an emergency notification system that can provide information regarding local and county-wide emergencies.
    • If your particular area is flooded and inaccessible, this information may be put out through AlertJax.
    • Register online at this link.

If your Business/Building Experiences Flooding:

  • If you are renting space, contact your property manager or superintendent immediately.
  • If you own the building, contact your insurance company immediately.
    • Establish a relationship with a reputable contractor(s) prior to a disaster – even if they are not available to do the work, they may be able to recommend someone who is available.
    • Make sure to photograph the damages.
    • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your business.
    • If major water damage has occurred, you may need to contact a company that specializes in water damage restoration and mold remediation.

City Services:

  • Depending on the severity of a storm, city services may be delayed (trash collection).
  • Check for announcements regarding potential interruptions.
  • Curbside debris removal will be available following a storm - make sure to separate debris – failure to do so may prevent workers from collecting it.
  • If your building is severely damaged, you may need to contact the City’s Municipal Code Compliance Division – can be reached through 630-CITY.

Generator: Should a business invest in or rent a generator?

  • Complete a cost/benefit analysis for your particular business.
  • Will you have employees working during times when the electricity may be out?
  • Can your network be accessed without a generator if the electricity is out?
  • Do you have perishable items that need to be refrigerated?
  • How often do you anticipate needing a generator?