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The disaster plan for businesses

Businesses looking to create an emergency plan for their companies – be they manufacturing plants or retail outlets – can find very helpful information from the Federal Emergency Management Administration. Their website http://www.ready.gov/business is a good starting point..

Here are some tips for business owners to get started on emergency preparedness.

  • Keep phone lists of your key employees and customers with you, and provide copies to key staff members.
  • If you have a voice mail system at your office, designate one remote number on which you can record messages for employees. Provide the number to all employees.
  • Arrange for programmable call forwarding for your main business line(s). Then, if you can’t get to the office, you can call in and reprogram the phones to ring elsewhere.
  • If you may not be able to get to your business quickly after an emergency, leave keys and alarm code(s) with a trusted employee or friend who is closer.
  • Install emergency lights that turn on when the power goes out. They are inexpensive and widely available at building supply retailers.
  • Back up computer data frequently throughout the business day. Keep a backup tape off site.
  • Use UL-listed surge protectors and battery backup systems. They will add protection for sensitive equipment and help prevent a computer crash if the power goes out.
  • Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature. Keep it on and when the warning signal sounds, listen for information about possible severe weather and protective actions to take.
  • Stock a minimum supply of the goods, materials and equipment you would need for business continuity.
  • Consult with your insurance agent about special precautions to take for disasters that may directly impact your business. Remember, most policies do not cover earthquake and flood damage. Protect valuable property and equipment with special riders.
  • Discuss business continuity insurance with your agent.
  • Keep emergency supplies handy, including flashlights with extra batteries, first-aid kit, tools, food and water for employees and customers to use during a period of unexpected confinement at your business, such as if a tanker truck overturned nearby and authorities told everyone in the area to stay put for an extended period.
  • You should also consider having a professional install flexible connectors to appliances and equipment fueled by natural gas, shutters that you can close to protect windows from damage caused by debris blown by a hurricane, tornado or severe storm, automatic fire sprinklers.

On the web: The American Red Cross offers ideas on how businesses can prepare for a disaster at http://www.redcross.org/www-files/Documents/pdf/Preparedness/PrepYourBusfortheUnthinkable.pdf

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