Disaster Preparedness Tips for Small Businesses

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If Hurricane Irma has taught us anything, it’s the importance of preparation. As the storm formed in the Atlantic, most Floridians didn’t bat an eye. Years and years of “getting lucky” caused homeowners and business owners to get lazy when it came to insuring and protecting their most precious belongings. While damaging, Hurricane Irma didn’t cause the catastrophic damage that was expected, saving thousands of homes and businesses from completely rebuilding.

Our team, as well as thousands in southwest Florida, don’t want others to find themselves in a similar sticky situation. We’ve compiled some helpful tips to help you and your team prepare for the worst before and after it occurs.

The Team That Works Together, Stays Together

The South Florida Regional Planning Council has seen some of the worst case scenarios in south Florida. When infamous Hurricane Andrew ravaged the southeast coast of Florida, many found themselves unprepared. Around 90% of businesses in Dade County were damaged, destroyed, and many were uninsured.

That’s why it’s vital for the safety of your employees and your business to create a plan of action now, rather than later. A hurricane response plan will:

  • Expedite recovery
  • Enhance employee safety
  • Reduce insurance premiums
  • Reduce economic loss
  • Protect property
  • Ensure proactive decision-making

Preparation starts with your employees. Things can be replaced, human lives cannot. Ensure that all of your employees have a safe place to find shelter. Have several hard copies of all Emergency Contact information at the office, at home, and give a sheet to all of your employees. Safety is priority #1.

Preparation Starts Now

You have an Emergency Contact list for your employees. Now what?

Planning for a disaster can be a big pill to swallow so it’s good for organization and peace of mind to break it up into pieces: Property, Important Documents, and a checklist for both.

Property

  • Invest in and install shutters or plywood to protect windows and doors from debris
  • Have a leak? Get it fixed! A faulty roof can have catastrophic consequences
  • Sandbag entrances that may be subjected to flooding
  • Anchor large furniture (bookcases, desks, shelves, filing cabinets) to secure wall studs
  • Relocate any valuable or fragile possessions, including computers and monitors
  • Secure all utilities including water heaters and gas tanks
  • Turn off utilities prior to evacuation

Important Documents

  • As well as your employees, identify important contact information for customers, banks, insurance provider, suppliers, etc.
  • Back-up important documents and have several copies of insurance documents, legal contracts, tax returns, etc.
  • Seal documents in waterproof containers or baggies

Disaster Checklist

In the event of any disaster, businesses should have the following on-site. This will protect you, employees, and any customers that may be on premises during a disaster.

  • Battery operated radio or television
  • Non-perishable three day food supply for several people
  • Three day supply of water
  • Coolers and containers for water and washing
  • First Aid Kit and first aid manual
  • Flashlights, batteries, light-sticks
  • Tool kit
  • Camera and film for documenting damages
  • Whistle/signal flare to signal for help
  • Tarps, plastic bags, duct tape
  • Cleaning supplies, including mops, towels and garbage cans
  • Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers
  • Electric generator
  • Gas for vehicles, generators and other equipment
  • Emergency contact information such as the nearest hospital and police
  • Insurance company and agent’s contact information

Remember, “Plan for the worst and hope for the best.”

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