Winter’s snow can so often bring on major flooding when it thaws too quickly. The snow melts, waters rise, drains become blocked and hillsides become too saturated and slide. These simple changes can cause major disasters for small businesses trying to keep things moving smoothly forward.
Flooding and other disasters can cost business owners money in three ways:
1. Cost of repairing damages to the business
2. Cost of replacing products
3. Lost of revenue
The startling truth is that as many as 25% of small business do not reopen after a disaster. That is why it is so important for small business owners to layout a strategic disaster plan that includes emergency recovery steps in the event of a flood.
All business owners should consider purchasing flood insurance for their business, regardless of where the business is located or its size. Flood insurance policies will not only cover a natural disaster but also broken building pipes or leaking roofs. The cost up-front could save you a lot of money down the road should water damage destroy the business.
Once you have that major protection from flood damage in your disaster plan, take the necessary precautions to ensure you never have to call upon that plan. Below are some suggestions as you develop your disaster management plan.
o Put together a list of important emergency contacts and their information and place it in TWO easy to find location. Important contacts should include landlord contact information, building maintenance numbers, utility company numbers, medical and fire service numbers, a business disaster recovery service number and any technical support staff numbers that may be needed.
o Make photocopies of any important documents related to your business, the building or your employees and store them off-site. The same should be done for important computer files.
o Have a map of the office building and indicate where the electricity shut off system, and water valves are located. Indicate any other key pieces of equipment that may need special care in case of water damage.
o Store important documents, archives, film, photos and anything else vital to your business in safer storing areas, preferably off the ground on high shelves in waterproof storage containers.
o Run basic drills with your employees are emergency procedures, including evacuation plans and phone call protocols for getting and receiving information in the event of a flood or other emergency. Also include information on alternate working locations should the office building become off-limits.
o Put together an emergency supply kit and place it in an area easily accessible by all employees.
o Plan your landscaping to properly channel water away from the building foundation. Clear away debris from drains periodically throughout the year and keep your eye out for any standing water that may cause long-term problems.
With a proper disaster plan, you may not be able to completely forestall major water damage but you can keep it from ruining your business or your most important assets. Small business owners that take the time to prepare a solid flood disaster plan will be able to spend more time on the items most important with running their business.
~Flora Richards-Gustafson, 2009