Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Small Businesses

4 min read • Mar 17, 2020 • Grant Olsen

The coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has upended life for most Americans, which has a corresponding impact on the businesses they work for and interact with. So how do you prepare for a pandemic like this? And how do you prepare for future emergencies that we can’t even anticipate?

Robust resources are available to help your small business with emergency preparedness. Start with the Small Business Administration’s excellent emergency preparedness portal. You should also check out the resources offered by SCORE, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Chamber of Commerce.

Putting together a comprehensive plan empowers your business to continue operations during emergencies such as COVID-19, as well as other natural and human-caused disasters. Here’s a basic checklist to help you begin your preparations:

The Potential Impact 

Think about how an emergency could affect your business.

  • What type of emergencies are possible in your business location?
  • How would your facility hold up during these possible disasters?
  • What can you do to make your facility more resilient?
  • Do you have the proper insurance?
  • Have you gathered all the relevant emergency responder contact info?
  • Have you gathered contact info for all the relevant utilities?
  • Have you gathered contact info for your employees?

Navigating the Emergency

Consider how you can safeguard your employees and business.

  • Have you created an emergency planning committee?
  • Do you have the right first aid supplies and safety equipment?
  • Who will be in charge during an emergency?
  • Do you have employees trained in first aid and CPR/AED?
  • How will you alert your employees of an emergency?
  • How will you communicate throughout the emergency?
  • Do you have an evacuation plan in place?

Continuing Business Operations 

Evaluate how you will keep things running during the emergency.

  • What are your most important business functions?
  • How will you keep these functions going?
  • How will you communicate with customers, suppliers, and partners?
  • How will you work if your facility is inaccessible?
  • Have you trained your employees on the procedures in your plan?
  • Do you conduct drills to ensure understanding and proper execution?

Be sure to use the robust resources provided by the Small Business Administration (SBA), SCORE, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Chamber of Commerce to bolster the basic steps outlined in this checklist. Once you’ve gathered all the information, you’ll be able to tailor a plan just for your business.

One of the most important aspects of any successful plan is having everyone on the same page. Talk to your employees before you make any big decisions. Gather their feedback and implement it wherever possible. You’ll often be surprised by the excellent ideas that arise through this type of collaboration.

After finalizing your plan, make sure it’s communicated clearly and consistently with your people. Hopefully, your plan will rarely need to be put into action. But having it at the ready is an essential part of being a responsible business owner. Your employees will know you value their health and safety and that you are doing everything possible to also protect their livelihood in the event of an emergency.

 

Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Small Businesses

Grant Olsen

Grant Olsen is a writer specializing in small business loans, leadership skills, and growth strategies. He is a contributing writer for KSL 5 TV, where his articles have generated more than 6 million page views, and has been featured on FitSmallBusiness.com and ModernHealthcare.com. Grant is also the author of the book "Rhino Trouble." He has a B.A. in English from Brigham Young University.