Small Business Ownerís Guide to Coping with Natural Disasters

When you start a business, you think about profit and loss, stock control, marketing, and hiring the right staff. Unless you are incredibly well-prepared, the thought of coping with natural disasters wonít be something youíve spent very long planning. Sadly, homes and businesses across the USA are affected by extreme weather every year and being aware of the dangers and what to do in an emergency could turn out to be a skill youíll be grateful for.

Precautions

Whatever the cause of your situation, you should follow some basic safety precautions to keep everyone as safe from harm as possible. Your emergency kit should be checked and kept replenished as a matter of routine. You should always be aware of where your employees are and who is on the premises, so you can gather everyone together and do a roll call to make sure no-one is trapped outside and that you are all accounted for.

Floods

Rapidly rising water levels can cause sudden flooding of buildings, and the force of the water can cause a great deal of damage. If you have had a flood warning, listen to your local radio station, check where your nearest emergency shelter is and be ready to leave immediately in case you have to be evacuated. If you have anything valuable or irreplaceable and there is time, you can move these items to a higher level of the building. When the floodwaters approach, keep back from doors and windows and move to a higher part of the building. Donít let the water touch you if you can help it, as it is likely to be contaminated with sewage and could be dangerous. Donít try and use any electrical equipment that comes into contact with the flood water, or you could get a shock. If you are in an area that is more likely to flood, industrial pumps could be useful for helping to clear the water.

Hurricanes

If you get caught by a hurricane at your workplace, you will be much safer inside, preferably away from any glass walls, windows or doors. If possible, get everyone into an internal room on the ground floor, or at least into a central part of the building. Keep away from electrical equipment and power sources, and if itís safe to do so, you could turn off the main power breaker. Donít let anyone go outside until youíre certain the storm has passed. There could be falling trees or power lines, and even small objects can be very damaging when the force of extreme winds projects them. There is also the possibility of a lightning strike. If it seems like the hurricane is calming, wait until you can be certain that it isnít just the eye of the storm passing over you. Hurricanes are a primary cause of torrential rain that can lead to flash floods and storm surges, so listen out for flood warnings.

Although unlikely, natural disasters can and do happen, so itís worth allocating the short amount of time necessary to make sure your workplace is prepared for the worst.