Emergency Preparedness for Small Businesses

2014-11-05

At school, home, and in the corporate workplace, taking the time to create an emergency preparedness plan is common; but for busy small business owners in New York, this seemingly non-urgent task can easily take a backseat to more pressing concerns. However, by neglecting this task, your small businesses could be at greater risk of serious negative impacts.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 40 percent of businesses affected by a disaster sustain such significant damage that they are unable to reopen; and yet, over half of small business owners surveyed report not having a plan to address hazardous or catastrophic events. A solid emergency plan should include employee and customer safety procedures, alternate ways to meet customer needs if operations or productions are disrupted, and precautionary measures to protect valuable assets, both physical and electronic.

To create a plan that will fit your business's unique needs, follow the steps below:

  • Enlist help: Create a committee of dedicated staff who understand the business from a variety of angles. Consider including outside consultants such as customers, law enforcement, or medical professionals, depending on your specific safety concerns.
  • Conduct a risk assessment: Whether you are in construction or retail, take the time to brainstorm different ways your particular business may be threatened in the event of a disaster or emergency. Consider the loss of physical property and assets, sensitive customer and employee data, and ways in which your business activity could be delayed or disrupted. If your business activities create the potential for unique hazards, include potential fines or liability considerations as well.
  • Think prevention: Before planning for an emergency, look for ways to prevent the possibility of it happening in the first place. Take the time to train employees thoroughly in workplace safety procedures and take advantage of OSHA's free safety consultations. Finally, invest in a strong security system appropriate to your business to deter criminal activity.
  • Consider every scenario: There are many different types of emergencies that may impact your business. When developing your emergency plan, make sure to consider many different scenarios, from natural disasters to cyber attacks, and create a plan for each one.
  • Stay safe online: A comprehensive emergency program will include cyber-safety precautions and emergency procedures. Make sure all software and anti-virus protection is up to date and regularly maintained, and develop a plan to backup and restore important data, if necessary.
  • Envision recovery: If your business were compromised, what would take precedence when the initial harm had passed? Prioritize steps to getting up and running again so that your path to recovery produces the greatest positive outcome in the shortest amount of time.
  • Communicate: Make the most of your preparedness plan by effectively communicating it to staff, practicing emergency response procedures, and following through on the recommendations of your committee.

For detailed information and resources to help you create an effective emergency plan for your small business, visit Ready.gov.

For any questions about small business insurance, call or contact Executive Insurance & Financial Services today.

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