June 3, 2008 — The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is urging the public to develop an emergency plan before disaster hits.
“Every threat, from wind storms, floods, and wildfires, to power outages and computer system failures, reminds us to be proactive when it comes to planning strategies to survive a disaster and recover quickly,” said SBA Deputy Administrator Jovita Carranza. “The catastrophic events of the last few years demonstrate the need for preparedness at the individual level, to diminish the risk to life and property.”
Disaster preparedness for homes and businesses should include:
• A solid emergency response plan. Find evacuation routes from the home or business and establish meeting places. Make sure everyone understands the plan beforehand. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. Business owners should designate a contact person to communicate with other employees, customers, and vendors. Ask an out-of-state friend or family member to be your “post-disaster” point of contact — a person to call to provide information on your safety and whereabouts.
• Adequate insurance. Disaster preparedness begins with having adequate insurance coverage—at least enough to rebuild your home or business. Homeowners and business owners should review their policies to see what is or isn’t covered. Businesses should consider “business interruption insurance,” which helps cover operating costs during the post-disaster shutdown period. Flood insurance is essential. To find out more about the National Flood Insurance Program, visit the Web site at www.floodsmart.gov.
• Making copies of important records. It’s a good idea to back up vital records and information saved on computer hard drives, and store that information at a distant offsite location. Computer data should be backed up routinely. Copies of important documents and CDs should be stored in fireproof safe deposit boxes offsite.
• Protection of windows, doors, and roofing. Installing impact-resistant window and door systems, or simple plywood shutters installed before the storm hits can enhance their ability to resist impacts from wind-borne debris. Hire a professional to evaluate your roof to make sure it can weather a major storm.
• A “Disaster Survival Kit.” The kit should include a flashlight, a portable radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, nonperishable packaged and canned food, bottled water, a basic tool kit, plastic bags, cash, and a disposable camera to take pictures of the property damage after the storm.
More preparedness tips for businesses, homeowners, and renters are available at www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance/disasterpreparedness/index.html.
The Institute for Business and Home Safety (www.ibhs.org ) also has information on protecting your home or business. For learn more about developing an emergency plan, visit www.ready.gov or call 800-BE-READY to receive free materials.
Source: U.S. Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov