Recently the United Nations published a 572 page report the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” or IPCC for short. The reason this tome was written? Natural and weather related disasters have more than tripled since 1980. Last year, in the United States alone, FEMA made 99 Major Disaster Declarations, 29 Emergency Declarations and 114 Fire Management Assistance Declarations – the highest number of declarations ever made since FEMA began in 1953.
Kinda makes you wonder if all that stuff about the Mayan calendar might be right . . .
But, if you’re a small to medium sized business owner, you’re probably pretty optimistic. You might think,” Wow, I feel bad for all those people affected by the recent tornadoes, but that doesn’t happen here.” You might think the flooding that occurred last year in Minot, North Dakota or even in our own area after Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee were isolated events. And you might even think that “my business isn’t in a flood prone area so it can’t affect my income or profits.”
As a business owner, it’s time to check your assumptions. Because, the reality is, 50% of businesses that sustain a major catastrophic loss like flood, fire, or explosion, never re-open for business. And 65% of all businesses are located in regions susceptible to natural disasters.
Unfortunately, only 50% of small to medium sized businesses (SMB) have an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) in place.
So, doesn’t it make you wonder, with these two statistics, that if, by having a plan, you and your business could beat the odds and survive a catastrophic event?
The reason half of all small to medium sized businesses don’t have a plan? According to Symantec’s research, SMB’s don’t think they have the time or the resources to create a plan.
So, with all the other things you have to do as a business owner, what’s the alternative?
Realizing that our economy rests on the strength of small and medium sized businesses to survive disasters, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the adoption of the final standards for the “Voluntary Private Sector Preparedness Accreditation and Certification Program,” or the PS-Prep program for short.
Here are 10 things that every business owner can do right now to prepare for the unexpected – and protect the time, love, energy and money you’ve invested into your business:
1. First things first: check and test your communication system. During disasters, business operations depend on this. Have you ever wondered what you would do if the phone networks went down?
2. Maintain emergency supplies on site. Ask yourself what would happen to your business if the supplies you needed to provide your goods or services weren’t there?
3. Review your commercial insurance policy with your agent!! You need to know now – before a disaster happens – what is covered and when that coverage begins.
4. Where is your company’s data? If it’s not stored off-site or in “the cloud” now, your business will have a 40% chance of failing after a natural disaster if it loses its data.
5. Pick a site . . . any site, but have a relocation site plan in place. Where would you conduct business if your current location had the roof ripped off by a tornado? Do you have an offsite crisis meeting place?
6. Compile an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) and make sure key employees know where it is. What’s an ERP? It’s a secure document, written specifically for your business that includes blueprints of your facility and an emergency contact list. (Tip: PuroClean Emergency Recovery Services writes ERP’s for local businesses free of charge –and then prints them out in hard copy AND saves them on pen drives so that can be taken home!)
7. In a natural disaster, your key employees might not be available – they may be tending to home and family first . . . and that’s as it should be! But, your business has a better chance of surviving a disaster if you train back-up employees to perform emergency tasks.
8. Coordinate with local emergency response teams: firefighters, police, EMT’s and let them become familiar with your company, the type of business and its location.
9. Schedule a drill and test your Emergency Response Plan. Remember the 5 P’s: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Evaluate your company’s performance from the drill so you can observe and correct.
10. Update your ERP on a regular basis. If your business is anything like ours, it’s in a constant state of flux and change: personnel changes, technology changes, even facilities can change. All of these changes will impact your Emergency Response Plan, so the Plan will need to be updated on a regular basis.
By following these 10 steps, you can help to ensure that your optimism will be rewarded, your business will survive and continue to thrive, even if the worst should happen. In the words of FEMA, “Preparing IS your business!”
And Remember: PuroClean Emergency Recovery Services is here to help you. Our mission:
Strengthening the communities we serve by helping local businesses prepare!
If you’re a small to medium sized business owner, a property manager, a CEO or a CFO of a business in the Philadelphia region, and you would like to know more about Emergency Response Planning in our region, please join us for lunch at the Riverton Country Club on June 13, 2012 from 11: am to 2:00 pm for
PS PREP: Who’s Got Your Back? Emergency Preparedness Planning for Business