Small Business Disaster Preparedness Tips

By Pedro Hernandez | Posted October 16, 2013

Is your business ready should a disaster strike?

Assuming that you already have a data backup and recovery plan, it's time to turn your attention to your most vital resource: your work force. Phil Cox, founder and CEO of Legacy Food Storage, a Utah-based provider of prepackaged freeze-dried meals, doesn't just sell products that keep households fed during emergencies, he believes in keeping his own workers safe.

Emergencies can take many forms and oftentimes arrive unannounced, reminds Cox. A natural disaster, industrial accident, infrastructure collapse or even a criminal act can cut off your employees from their homes with zero time to prepare.

That means your business has to step up be their port in the storm. Here are his tips for helping your employees cope with emergencies.

Abide by the 3-Week Rule

Arrange "to have food, fuel and water for three weeks," says Cox.


Don't expect your region to bounce back quickly and for supplies to start flowing immediately in the aftermath of a disaster. Employees may be cut off from their own supplies if they happen to be at work when an emergency strikes your area.

Cox recommends storing enough food to provide your workers with 2,000 calories a day and two to three gallons of water each. In terms of fuel to heat food and to provide some warmth, look into long-lasting, shelf-stable diethylene glycol canisters.

Prepare 72-Hour Kits

Your office may be pulling double duty as a shelter for your employees. Cox suggests gathering "basic emergency supplies" into a 72-hour kit. These should include a first aid kit, flashlight, radio, a change of clothing and a poncho. These items will come in especially handy if your staffers need to venture out, or worse, if ordered to evacuate.

Get the Most Disaster Prep for Your Money

Though it may seem a little crass to put a price tag on survival, use your budgeting skills to ensure that both your workers and your finances emerge unscathed from a disaster.

"Small businesses, like mine, can more than take care of their employees with little spend." says Cox. Look beyond the price tag and "understand what the money buys you."

Consider the shelf life of survival products, the quality of food items and how many "good" calories they provide in your calculations. Don't get hung up on serving sizes; focus on total calories. In an emergency, it's unlikely that you'll be doing much measuring or portion control.

Remember to factor in the storage of emergency rations and supplies. While it's good to be prepared, don't stockpile unnecessarily. Find a happy medium.

Keep the Lights On, Affordably

In terms of emergency generators, "go with the basics," advises Cox.

Not all small businesses have the means to install expensive backup power systems, and that's OK. During an emergency, your priority is survival, not business continuity.

Although a gas-powered generator from Amazon, Home Depot or Lowes isn't likely to restore full power to your shop, it will be enough to keep cell phones charged and the essentials going. You can get back to business after your staff is safe and sound.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!

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