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 any time and anywhere.
To prepare for disasters, SBA offers the following tips:
* Develop a solid emergency-response plan. Find evacuation routes 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 at least enough to rebuild your home or business. Homeowners and business owners should review their policies to see what is 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, go to 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/backups 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 damage. For more tips, check SBA's website at www.sba.gov.