10 Steps to Keep Your Business from Being Derailed by a Disaster

If a fire or other natural disaster hit your business, would you be prepared to react?

Sep 23, 2015

The wildfires raging in California and other places across the West are sobering reminders of the devastating impact that natural disasters can have on our homes, our businesses and our communities. You might be surprised to learn that almost half of businesses (45 percent) that have had a large fire or some type of water damage are out of business within two years, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

September is National Emergency Preparedness month, and it’s a great time to assess your company’s emergency action plan. Following are 10 tips to help keep your business from being derailed by a disaster:

  1. Establish rally points and recovery locations. For each location, create two “rally points” — one near and one far — where employees would assemble in the event of a building evacuation. If the building is inaccessible, employees should be directed to report to work at a recovery location to resume normal business operations.
  2. Create a calling tree and use it to verify that all employees have made it to safety in case of an emergency. Contact all vendors to let them know about the emergency.
  3. Prepare an emergency kit for each location that includes items such as blankets, flashlights, batteries and first aid items.
  4. Create a forms kit for each location that includes all the forms you would need to run your business without access to computers.
  5. Allow all employees to have input into your emergency plan. Talk about what risks are in your area for a given scenario. For example, if the scenario is a severe winter storm, are there large trees or overhead power lines around the building? If so, discuss safety procedures in the event of downed power lines.
  6. Think all the way through the scenario. It is not only about acknowledgment of the situation, but the discussion to determine the solution to several issues that could arise.
  7. Take notes during your meetings to document the testing process and resulting feedback.
  8. Encourage employees to be prepared at home. The more prepared employees are at home, the faster they will be able to return to work and assist in supporting the community as a whole in case of a disaster.
  9. Get your financial house in order. An online banking platform will allow you to issue a stop payment, wire transfer or run payroll for employees from any computer in the world. Ensure that you have emergency funds available to purchase supplies or equipment, or to relocate your business temporarily. Be prepared by establishing a line of credit, or a credit card with a generous limit, in advance.
  10. Test your plan. On a quarterly basis, review all aspects of the plan to make sure they are up-to-date and feasible. On an annual basis, create a test scenario to practice the steps you would take in an emergency.

For additional resources visit If your business has already been affected by a natural disaster, you may qualify for a special disaster loan from the SBA. Visit for information.

Take steps today to ensure that you and your employees are prepared in the event of an emergency.


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