September’s designation as National Preparedness Month makes it a good time to remember that businesses should plan for emergencies just as individuals and families should.
Federal and state officials encourage business owners to make plans before, not after, an emergency strikes. Natural and human-caused disasters are capable of severely effecting businesses, especially those businesses that have not worked on a survival plan in advance.
Here are some recommendations for business owners who want to be ready when emergencies hit.
Assessing your risk
The first item on a business owner’s agenda should be getting familiar with precisely what sort of disasters are most likely to strike your area.
One good resource for this is disastersafety.org, a website maintained by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. At that site you can enter your zip code and get an instant list of emergencies that your area is prone toward, along with many helpful links to help you plan for such events.
Business impact analysis
Predicting the consequences of the disruption of your business’ functions and developing recovery strategies are the roles of the business impact analysis. Here are the impacts to consider when putting your BIA together:
• Lost or delayed sales and income
• Expense increases such as overtime, outsourcing, etc.
• Contractual impacts like penalties and bonuses
• Customer dissatisfaction or defection
• Delayed new business plans
Go to www.ready.gov for an in-depth discussion of BIAs.
Hazard prevention and deterrence
Because we know that comprehensive accident prevention programs can reduce accident frequency, it stands to reason that they can be effective when disasters hit as well.
OSHA does a free on-site consultation for small businesses, as well as providing resources for evaluating and improving
workplace safety. Visit osha.gov and click on “small business” to find out more about these programs.
Risk mitigation strategies
Businesses must consider such issues as site selection, building codes, computer network security and protection of high-valued assets. Prevention of business disruption can mean having an uninterrupted power supply and emergency standby generator for critical equipment.
Ready.gov recommends a business continuity plan and has details about the development of such.
Kansas’ special challenges
The challenges to businesses are many when it comes to planning for disasters. Those challenges are well worth putting the necessary time and effort into.
We live in a region that has more than its share of natural disaster possibilities. When we factor in the headlines about man-made emergencies, it becomes evident that now is the time to plan for such contingencies.
An excellent place to begin your search for online resources to help you prepare your business for emergencies is fema.gov/protecting-yourbusinesses.
Additionally, check out the American Red Cross website for businesses at http://www.readyrating.org.