According to the Florida Virtual Business Emergency Operations Center (FLVBEOC), taking the steps to build a business disaster plan and encourage employees to create a family emergency plan can reduce the impacts of a disaster on a business. The organization is providing business owners with the following tips amid Hurricane Irma.
· Purchase a stock of supplies, materials and equipment needed to run your business in the event of a disruption of delivery.
· Maintain a list of employee and customer phone numbers that you can access from outside the business. Ensure key staff have the same information in the event employees are unable to return to the business location.
· Back up business data daily and maintain that information at an offsite location or on a portable storage device.
· If your business uses a voicemail system at the office, consider designating one number to use to record important messages for employees to access. Provide the number to all employees.
· Identify a phone number for customers and program call forwarding to one number. If you are unable to access the business, you can call in and reprogram to a remote location.
· Use UL-listed surge protectors and battery back-up systems in the event of power loss.
· Have a disaster supply kit on hand for the business to include, but not limited to, flashlights with extra batteries, a first aid kit, tools, water and nonperishable food in the event you are unable to leave your business.
· Discuss business continuity or business interruption insurance with your insurance agent. Discuss flood insurance with your insurance agent since most policies do not cover flood insurance. For more information visit www.floodsmart.gov.
· Designate one employee per shift as safety coordinator to make decisions relating to customer safety and safety of the business if the owner or manager is not on site.
· Encourage employees to develop a family emergency plan and a disaster supply kit.
· Create an emergency contact list for all employees and maintain offsite.
· Inform employees about your business emergency plan and review with them on a regular basis.
· Identify an internal shelter area in the event authorities advise to “shelter in place.”
· Document employees’ job function and identify back-up support in the event an employee is unable to access the business location.
· Create a phone tree and designate individuals who will initiate the communications process.
· Maintain a copy of customer records offsite.
· Identify an alternative worksite to use to communicate to customers during response and recovery.
· Install emergency lights that turn on when the power goes out. They are inexpensive and widely available at building supply retailers.
· Install NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert feature in business locations.
· Secure tall bookcases, file cabinets or display cases to wall studs.
· Use plumbers tape or strap iron to wrap around a hot water heater to secure to wall studs.
· Contact a professional to install flexible connectors to appliances and equipment fueled by natural gas.
· Install shutters to protect windows from debris blown by high winds.
· Install automatic fire sprinklers.
For more information, visit http://flvbeoc.org/.