Is Your Business Prepared for an Emergency?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, extreme weather is becoming more common – the prevalence of record-high temperatures and extreme one-day precipitation has increased since the year 2000. And large floods have increased in frequency for the Northeast.

For owners of small businesses, these weather trends highlight the need for a good disaster response plan. That plan should address any known dangers based on your geographic location and type of business, as well general threats any business may face.

Fire, flooding, and data breaches are just a handful of the disasters that can befall a business. But with advance preparation, businesses will be better equipped to withstand these threats. The following is information that may be helpful, if you haven’t yet created – or you need to update – your disaster plan.

Define How You’ll Communicate

There’s no way to predict where you’ll be when disaster strikes. If your business has a physical location, your disaster plan should cover how and when to exit the building in an emergency and under what conditions everyone should shelter in place.

If a disaster occurs outside of business hours, you’ll need a communication plan that allows decision-makers and employees to reach each other. Outline who is responsible for contacting whom and in what manner (and make sure you have current contact information for all employees).

Develop a policy that covers weather-related closures, so that when hazardous weather is imminent, employees know what to expect.

Decide How/If You’ll Compensate Employees

A disaster can shut down your business for a day, weeks, or indefinitely. During that time, can your employees expect to be paid? Will they be able to work for you in some capacity? The answers to these questions, of course, depend largely on the nature of work you do. But you are better equipped to answer those questions now than you would be after disaster strikes.

Think About How You’ll Access Technology and Records

Employee contact information won’t be of much use to you if it’s stored in an inaccessible file. Any digital files you might need should be stored on a separate server, or in the cloud, so you can access that information from anywhere.

Get a Risk Assessment

If storing and managing data, or accepting credit card payments, is a big part of your business, consider hiring a risk consultant to look for any weaknesses in security. Sometimes, onsite data security may be airtight, but an employee who accesses files through an insecure Wi-Fi network could jeopardize sensitive information.

Review Your Obligations

You may have contracts with vendors, property management companies, and other entities; if so, you should review those contracts as part of your disaster preparedness efforts. Don’t assume that just because your business is closed indefinitely, your suppliers will be willing to wait for you to pay invoices. Knowing what your obligations will be, and preparing in advance for the worst, is the best way to protect your interests.

Lusk Law, LLC, focuses on helping business owners plan for the future by providing sound legal advice. We’re also ready to represent our clients in court, should litigation become necessary. Our experienced attorneys have provided legal counsel and representation to landlords and other business owners in Frederick County, Howard County, Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Carroll County, Washington County, Anne Arundel County, Montgomery County and other counties in Maryland. If you need advice about your disaster plan or other legal matters, please call us at 443-535-9715 or fill out our contact form.

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