National Preparedness Month

Topics: Small Business

Summary: National Preparedness Month, celebrated every September, is a great time for small business owners across the country to revisit and adjust their own disaster recovery plans.

What is National Preparedness Month?

Hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes, floods, tornados, blizzards or even active shooter situations are all risks companies face throughout the year. Understanding how to prepare for and respond to certain crises can mean the difference between life and death. 

Since 2003, the Ready Campaign has made it a goal to educate and empower the American people to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergenices, including natural and man-made disasters, by promoting preparedness through public involvement. National Preparedness Month is held every September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. 

National Preparedness Month 2023 Theme: Preparing for Older Adults

Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and, the theme for National Preparedness Month 2023 is "Preparing for Older Adults." The aging population faces greater risks following an emergency or disaster, especially those who live alone, have disabilities, reside in rural areas or are low income. 

Each week of September is dedicated to unique aspects of preparedness, like how to make or update a disaster plan, and how to communicate the importance of emergency preparedness for your community. 

Preparing for Natural Disasters and Emergencies

national preparedness month emergency checklist
Every small business should understand how to plan for a disaster, especially since one can strike anywhere, at any time. Certain industries, such as hospitals and medical facilities, can be more affected than others in times of an emergency. It’s vital that the medical community is able to stay up and running for as long as possible following a natural disaster for their current patients, incoming victims and first responders. All small businesses, from retailers to restaurants, should create a disaster recovery plan so all employees know how to react in an emergency.

The Ready Campaign states that some of the most common hazards businesses face include:
  • Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes
  • Health issues such as widespread and serious illnesses like the flu or COVID-19
  • Acts of violence and other human-caused hazards, including accidents
  • Technology-related hazards like power outages and equipment failure

National Preparedness Month: Evaluate Your Business Continuity Plan

The good news is there are steps all business owners can take to plan ahead for these risks. Unfortunately, many business owners fail to prepare their organizations to be more resistant to disasters so that they sustain as little damage as possible. AmTrust encourages its policyholders to develop a business continuity plan, which outlines the procedures an organization should adhere to in the event of a major disruption or disaster. Creating, updating, and testing your plan is critical to responding successfully to a natural disaster or other business disruption.

This National Preparedness Month, make sure your organization is ready for an emergency by:

Determining the possible hazards in your region

Different areas of the United States face different types of hazards, especially when it comes to natural disasters. Hurricane season starts as early as May and lasts through November, affecting the Southern states and East Coast. The Northeast and Midwest deal with blizzards and ice storms in the winter months, while the West Coast may encounter wildfires in the summer and fall or earthquakes throughout the year. The summer can also bring additional risks from heat stress to summer storms. All businesses face the risk of a cybersecurity breach, which can impact reputation, brand, customer loyalty and cost thousands of dollars. Understand the main risks your business may face and create your plan accordingly.

Assessing the building’s risk for potential vulnerabilities

Once you understand the hazards your businesses may face, conduct a thorough examination of the interior and exterior of your building to determine its main weaknesses. Take note of where upgrades may be needed structurally based on the types of disasters that pose a real threat in your community.

Safeguard the building as needed

Help reduce damage to the building by making the necessary adjustments. If you’re at risk for flooding due to a hurricane or strong storm, for example, make sure to install dry flood protection materials like floodgates, sandbags or tarps, keep machinery and electronics elevated off the floor, and keep outdoor furniture and signage anchored down or moved inside. If wildfires are a threat, noncombustible siding materials like brick and concrete can help provide protection from flames and radiant heat. In snowy, cold regions, contract with a company for ice and snow removal from the property, but make sure to protect your business from potential liabilities by taking precautions. This includes obtaining Certificates of Insurance for workers’ compensation and liability and automobile insurance, with proper limits of coverage, and keeping them on file.

Publish and post your disaster recovery plan

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has created OFBEZ™ (Open for Business-EZ), a free, downloadable business continuity planning toolkit to help you recover, reopen quickly and reduce losses. Creating this plan is the first step in understanding the risks your business may face. Continually reviewing, updating, republishing and distributing the plan will help all employees make quick, informed decisions following a disaster.

Make sure you have adequate businessowners insurance coverage

Part of a disaster recovery plan involves reviewing your current businessowners policy (BOP) to ensure that should something go wrong, you’ll be in the financial position to rebound well. AmTrust’s standard BOP not only includes general liability and commercial property coverage but also business interruption insurance to provide protection from when unforeseen events – like a natural disaster – temporarily disrupt your ability to function as usual.

Protect Your Small Business with a BOP from AmTrust Financial

AmTrust Financial underwrites over 350 class codes, making us an ideal fit for a variety of small businesses. Learn how our businessowners policy can help keep you focused on what’s most important – growing your company. Contact us today to learn more.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.

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