Guest blog post by Dan Stoneking, Director, Private Sector, FEMA Office of External Affairs
I used to own a small business called Stoneking Graphic Design. I know first-hand how hard it was to build it in my small town in New Hampshire: Long hours. Little security. So I was particularly moved to hear about the Weston Market place in Vermont that was flooded last year during Hurricane Irene.
As a new hurricane season is upon us, I worry about the Weston Markets in other towns. Disasters not only devastate individuals and neighborhoods, but entire communities, including businesses of all sizes. For small business owners, having a business continuity plan can help protect their company, keep their employees safe, and maximize their chances of recovery after an emergency or disaster.
Ready Business, an extension of the Ready national disaster preparedness campaign, helps owners and managers of small- and medium-sized businesses prepare their employees, operations and assets in the event of an emergency. Ready Business asks companies to take three simple steps: plan to stay in business, encourage your people to become Ready, and protect your investment. The Business section of Ready.gov contains vital information for businesses on how to get started preparing their business and their unique needs during an emergency.
FEMA has launched a campaign called Small Business is Big, because we recognize the value of small businesses. This page gathers tools, links and resources to make preparedness easier and more effective for small businesses. And we welcome your input to make it better.
Having been there myself, I would suggest a few important initial steps. First, be sure you know your workplace emergency plan, including multiple ways to exit your building. Second, know your local evacuation routes and make sure your employees know them too. And third, practice what to do in an emergency at your business.
I imagine this all may just sound like words. But I know a Lowe’s store manager who updated his plan and practiced it with his employees. Then one day not long after, a tornado ripped right through the heart of the store. They followed their plan—everyone survived. It’s not just words. It’s about saving lives, protecting property, and keeping the business going.
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