We’ve seen what devastating weather can do in the Gulf and Florida to people’s homes and lives and to businesses. Smart planning can help you keep your small business running if disaster strikes. You’ll want to take the right steps to prevent and prepare for an emergency, and know where to get aid if disaster strikes.

An estimated 25 percent of businesses don’t open again after a major disaster, according to the Institute for Business and Home Safety. Protect your small business by identifying the risks relevant to your location, both natural and man-made. Then, keep your plan of action updated.

Preserve your equipment and business records by referencing this IRS guide on protecting your information before an emergency strikes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers an emergency preparedness checklist and toolkit.

Specific disaster checklists and tips

Focus on disasters that pose a realistic risk to your small business. Consult the following SBA resources to lessen the financial impact of disasters and reopen your business quickly.

Hurricanes
Winter Weather
Earthquakes
Tornadoes
Wildfires
Floods
Cyber Security

Source:  Small Business Administration

Get financial assistance after an emergency

When a disaster hits your small business, first contact FEMA to apply for financial assistance. They can provide money for housing along with other personal expenses including food, clothing and medicine.  The SBA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture provide low-interest loans for damaged and destroyed assets in a declared disaster. These include repair and replacement costs for real estate, personal property, machinery, equipment, inventory, and business assets.

Disaster cleanup

Take precautions to avoid injury or illness occurring in the cleanup process following a disaster. The wide range of hazards range from downed power lines and contaminated waters to hidden molds and toxins. If an emergency is affecting your community, connect with them first to check what type of local assistance is available.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published cleanup tips specifically for hazards during natural disaster recoveries.

If you encounter hazardous material spills or discharges, call the National Response Center.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlines reporting for spills and environmental violations.

More assistance

For more emergency preparedness advice, visit preparemybusiness.org.

For more specific information on Disaster Recovery for Small Businesses, check out my next blog.