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Preparing your Business for an Earthquake

by admin 30 Apr 2012
Last week, The Ready Store wrote a featured article in The Enterprise, a business journal, on how to prepare your business for an earthquake. Take a look: In February 2008, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake hit near Wells, Nev., Fortunately, this large earthquake didn’t take any lives. Instead, the quake damaged half of the non-residential buildings in the town. The disaster cost the city over $9 million dollars and steered businesses off track for months after the event. Your Responsibility to Prepare Your Business If you are preparing your family for an emergency, why should your business be any different? ... When you think about it, an earthquake might not strike while you and your family are at home. Instead, it’s probable that you’ll be at your desk (or perhaps on the golf course if you’re lucky)! You have a responsibility to prepare your business and your employees to know what to do in case of an emergency. There are a few things that you can do to prepare before a quake, train your employees on what do during a quake, and keep your business financially stable after an earthquake.   Prepare Your Location The first thing you’ll want to do is assess how ready your business location is for an earthquake. This will help you develop a plan for your business. Identify potential hazards. Does your office have a lot of pictures hanging on the wall? Is there more than one escape route out of the building? You should assess what concerns your location presents while you create a plan. Also, consider your businesses utilities. Is your water heater properly installed so that it won’t fall over in a quake? Are fire alarms and extinguishers in proper working order? Your building. There are many factors to take into account to ensure that your building is ready for an earthquake. Even things like design, furnishings and when the building was constructed can have an effect. The soil underneath a building can also have a major effect on its sustainability during a quake. Soft, clay-like soils tend to absorb the motion of an earthquake better than a rocky soil. Emergency materials. If you and your employees were trapped inside of the building, would you have the supplies to survive? You should consider purchasing or creating emergency kits for your business. Include things like flashlights, collapsible shovels, first-aid materials, water and some snacks. Be sure to make a few extra kits for customers or guests who might be at your building that day. These kits should be accessible and easy to grab if you need to exit the building. Prepare Your Employees The next step in preparing your business is to prepare your employees to know what to do during the earthquake. Establish an emergency coordinator. Depending on the size of your business, you may want to establish one of your employees as the emergency coordinator. They can head up projects that deal with emergency planning and conducting drills. Also consider providing incentives to employees who become CPR certified or take time to teach your customers and the community around you about emergency preparedness. Under the desk. The best thing that you and your employees can do during an earthquake is get underneath a desk or some sturdy structure and hold on. You might have heard in the past that getting under a door frame is the best idea. However, Steve Bowman, project manager for Utah Geological Hazards, sets the record straight. “Getting to a door frame might be harder than you think,” Bowman said. “There might be a lot of falling objects around the room. We recommend getting under a desk and holding on - the ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On’ technique.” Escape plan. Be sure to have a plan in place and practice it periodically with your employees. They should all know their escape route from the building. You should practice this plan at least once a quarter. Establish a meeting location. Once the earthquake stops, you and your employees need to know where to meet. Have a location where your business can check in to make sure everyone is OK. This location should be outdoors and easy to access if emergency responders need to help you. An emergency coordinator will have the responsibility of taking roll and making sure everyone is safe. Communication. After you’ve made sure that everyone is accounted for. Have plans in place to ensure that your employees can reach their family members. While many times, phone lines are jammed after an emergency, the Federal Communications Commission recommends that you send text messages to ensure family members that you are safe. Many times text messages will go through the system easier than a phone call. earthquakePrepare for the Effects on Your Business There are many smaller business that don’t make it out of an earthquake financially. “Many times, the impact of being closed for a few days or having their utilities or shipping interrupted for a few days can devastate a business,” Brown said. Remember that your mortgages and bills will not wait because of an earthquake. Earthquake insurance. Would insurance cover your business location in case of an earthquake? Not all insurance policies do! Check out your insurance policy to see what kind of damage it covers. There are some types of earthquake insurance policies that can be purchased separately, which might be a good fit for your business. Federal assistance. Interestingly, the majority of federal assistance money after an earthquake goes toward low-interest loans to qualified business. FEMA assistance is only available when the government declares a federal disaster. Business can apply for loans to help against building damage, employee loss or other working capital needs. However, if a disaster is declared, your business will have to apply to FEMA or the Small Business Administration (SBA) for a loan. Emergency power. If an earthquake strikes, the power grid might be knocked out. Be sure to have a contingency plan in place for electricity and power at your business. You might consider a generator or installing solar panels. Helping your local community. As a business, you have a responsibility to your local community and customers. You can include plans to be able to help people in your local community clean up after the mess. Your business would have to make plans to have access to tools, food, water, extra clothing and more to help the community. Besides fulfilling your duty to the local community, this will also establish a long-lasting relationship with customers and potential customers. Youll be prepared! Once you’ve established a plan and ensured that your business will keep going - you’ll be ready to face an earthquake. There are lots of resources out there including videos, brochures and reading material on ussc.utah.gov. You can also learn more and sign up to participate in the Utah Shake Out on April 17th at shakeout.org/utah. We would encourage you to prepare for an earthquake by making plans now!
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