The U.S. Small Businesses Administration is encouraging business owners to create their own disaster preparedness plan during National Preparedness Month in September. SBA Administrator Karen Mills said people tend to think that a large-scale disaster is not going to happen to them. "The reality is that storms, floods, earthquakes, fires and man-made disasters can strike anytime and anywhere." To prepare for disasters, SBA offers the following tips:
- Develop a solid emergency response plan. Find evacuation routes from the home or business and establish meeting places. Make sure everyone understands the plan beforehand. Keep emergency phone numbers handy. Business owners should designate a contact person to communicate with other employees, customers and vendors.
- Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. Disaster preparedness begins with having adequate insurance coverage--at least enough to rebuild your home or business. Homeowners and business owners should review their policies to see what is or isn't covered. Companies should consider business interruption insurance, which helps cover operating costs during the post-disaster shutdown period. Flood insurance is essential. To find out more about the National Flood Insurance Program, visit the Web site at www.floodsmart.gov.
- Copy important records. It's a good idea to back up vital records and information saved on computer hard drives, and store that information at a distant offsite location in fireproof safe deposit boxes. You should have copies/back ups of important documents ready to take with you if you have to evacuate.
- Create a "Disaster Survival Kit." The kit should include a flashlight, a portable radio, extra batteries, first-aid supplies, non-perishable food, bottled water, a basic tool kit, plastic sheeting and garbage bags, cash, and a digital camera to take pictures of the property damage after the storm.