The number of weather events in the United States has increased 5% during the last decade. Each year, there are over 55,000 weather events in our country, many of which put peoples’ lives at risk. These include winter storms, floods, earthquakes, heat waves, tornadoes, and wildfires. Weather events also disrupt the way businesses operate, halt the supply of goods, and wreak havoc on our economy. In addition to weather-related events, businesses also have to deal with productivity and revenue losses associated with seasonal influenza and a number of other epidemiologic threats. Influenza alone costs employers $15 billion in lost productivity each year. Natural disasters and outbreaks of illness serve as a warning to business owners to take action early, before they occur. This Balboa Capital blog post features tips on how prepare your business for an emergency.
Protect your company’s data.
Your business files and related data are invaluable and, therefore, need to be treated accordingly. Losing important and sensitive documents such as accounting paperwork and customer information could present your company with many problems. To safeguard your business data, consider storing it in fireproof, waterproof cabinets that come with strong security locks. Another way to ensure that your business data stays safe during a natural disaster is to store it in the cloud. Many small businesses are using cloud servers because they provide a virtual and fully protected storage solution for all types of files and information. Moving your business to the cloud is a smart business idea, and you can preserve your existing capital by financing it.
Stay online during a power outage.
Small businesses depend on the Internet to conduct daily tasks such as sending emails, selling online, and conducting video conferences. If a natural disaster knocks out your Internet connection, do not get left in the dark. Be proactive and check with your Internet provider, and your mobile provider, to find out if they have the appropriate backup systems in place should their wireless towers get damaged. If your small business cannot afford to be without Internet service for any amount of time, there are independently owned satellite companies that offer high-speed Internet service, but they can be expensive.
Safeguard your inventory and equipment.
If your small business maintains inventory, it is a good idea to store it in a manner that offers optimum protection should a natural disaster occur. Lost or damaged inventory can prove to be costly, and disrupt your normal business operations. To protect your valued inventory, keep it above flood level and secure it for extreme weather conditions. Always put your employees’ safety first by following the business codes and regulations set forth by the county that your business resides in. If your business operates equipment, it needs to be safeguarded against earthquakes and other natural disasters. Secure equipment that might collapse during an earthquake, and keep it stored away from areas of your business that pose risk to your employees’ safety, such as hot water tanks, pipes or large glass windows.
Send sick employees home.
It is not realistic to close your business during flu season, but there are things you can do to minimize the impact on your employees and your customers. First, make a point of sending people home who are experiencing flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, coughing, hacking, and sneezing. If you allow sick workers to stay in the office, they might infect others, and this could result in a huge financial loss to your business. Always exercise caution when sending employees home, and have your human resources manager follow the guidelines set forth by state law, OSHA and the CDC. Lastly, inaction on your part can get your company into trouble, and possible liability. Under state and OSHA law, you have an obligation to provide a safe workplace that does not put your employees at risk for catching a serious contagion from a sick co-worker.
Prepare for the unknown.
Influenza is among the most dangerous viral infections that occur each year in our country. The risk of catching the flu is somewhat predicable; flu activity has occurred between October and March for the past three decades. Therefore, it is important to be cognizant of other conditions that can make their way to your city or town, and prepare for them accordingly. For example, if an epidemic or pandemic occurs, you should have a contingency plan in place that can be implemented with minimal disruption. Your plan might include work-at-home options with laptops, chat platforms, and cloud-based project management software. Allowing your employees to work from home can help prevent person-to-person contamination of viruses that can cause serious health concerns. Remember, your employees are your most important asset, so do your best to protect them.
Weather events and flu outbreaks can occur without warning. That is why it is important for you to take precautionary steps to protect your small business and the safety and well-being of your employees. Balboa Capital hopes you found these tips to be useful for your company.