Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Tens of thousands of weather events occur annually in the United States, many of which put peoples’ lives at risk. These include winter storms, floods, earthquakes, heat waves, tornadoes, and wildfires. Weather events also disrupt how small businesses operate, halt the supply of goods, and wreak havoc on our economy. The state government might declare an emergency when extremely hazardous weather events occur.
In addition to weather-related events, businesses also have to deal with productivity and revenue losses associated with seasonal influenza and other epidemiologic threats. 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 to prepare your business for an emergency.
Protect your business’s data.
Your business files and related data are invaluable and must be treated accordingly. Losing important and sensitive documents such as accounting paperwork and customer information could present you with many problems. Instead, consider storing it in fireproof, waterproof cabinets with robust security locks to safeguard your data.
Another way to ensure that your business data stays safe during a natural disaster or sudden emergency is to store it in the cloud. Many small businesses use 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; 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 mobile provider to determine if they have the appropriate backup systems in place should their wireless towers get damaged.
Suppose your small business cannot afford to be without Internet service for any amount of time. In that case, independently owned satellite companies offer high-speed Internet service, but they can be expensive.
Safeguard your inventory and equipment.
If your small business maintains inventory, it is good to store it in a manner that offers optimum protection should a natural disaster or emergency occur. Lost or damaged merchandise can prove costly and disrupt your normal business operations. To protect your valued inventory, keep it above flood level and secure it from extreme weather conditions.
Always put your employees’ safety first by following the business codes and regulations set forth by the county where your business resides. If your company 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 a 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 you can do things to minimize the impact on your employees and your customers. First, send 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, resulting in a substantial 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 and federal laws. Lastly, inaction on your part can get your company into trouble and possible liability. Under state and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) law, you must provide a safe workplace that does not put your employees at risk of catching a severe contagion from a sick co-worker.
Prepare for an unexpected emergency.
Influenza is among the most dangerous viral infections that occur each year in our country. However, the risk of catching the flu is somewhat predictable; flu activity has happened between October and March for three decades. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware 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 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. In addition, 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, flu outbreaks, and other emergencies can occur without warning. That is why you need to take precautionary steps to protect your small business and the safety and well-being of your employees. Balboa Capital hopes you find these tips useful for your small business.
Balboa Capital, a Division of Ameris Bank, is not affiliated with nor endorses the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.