Prepare your business for an emergency
As a small business owner, you'll need to plan for emergencies that could disrupt your business. Storms, flood, fire or loss of utilities could mean partial, temporary or even permanent closure.
As part of your preparation you'll need to:
- understand the risks for your area and business
- develop an emergency management plan.
Develop an emergency management plan that covers all types of emergencies and disasters that may affect your business.
You'll need to:
- document all business processes
- identify the business processes and equipment that are critical to keeping your business open
- obtain building and site maps.
Keep important information up to date. Include:
- employee contact details
- emergency services contacts
- customer and supplier details
- product lists and specifications
- last stock and equipment inventory
- how you can be contacted
- insurance policies
- financial and banking records.
Keep important information secure:
- develop a backup schedule for computer files
- store all paper and computer files in an accessible, off-site location or consider cloud storage.
Plan for continuity:
- store extra supplies off-site
- make a plan for a temporary location if your business is forced to relocate
- have a plan for alternative communication with customers and suppliers during recovery
- determine roles and responsibilities during recovery.
Make sure your emergency kit includes:
- a first aid kit and manual
- battery-powered radio and torch with spare batteries.
Depending on the type of emergency, you'll need to prepare to shelter in place or evacuate:
- determine the trigger points for staying or leaving
- work out evacuation routes and exits
- work out roles and responsibilities, including chain of command
- keep employees informed of the business emergency management plan and review it with them regularly
- ensure that employees know the exit locations of buildings and what to do in an evacuation.
The Australian government website's section on emergency management and recovery provides comprehensive information that can help you identify risks to your business, critical areas of your business and how to best protect them. It also covers continuity and recovery planning to help your business prepare for and survive any emergency situation.
During an emergency
Put your emergency management plan into action.
Stay informed by listening to your local ABC radio station.
If evacuation is necessary follow any directions given by emergency services.
If there is time, turn off all utilities at the main switch or supply point.
After an emergency
Don't return to the business until emergency services have declared it safe to do so.
Before entering, assess the situation.
Financial assistance and support
If you are a small business owner who has been affected by a disaster, there may be financial assistance available, as well as a range of support services to help your business to recover.
For more information visit humanservices.gov.au/disaster or phone the Australian Government information hotline on 180 22 66.
Contact your insurer before you begin cleaning up and removing goods. Even if you don't know the full extent of the damage, your insurance company can tell you what you'll need to know to support your insurance claim.
If you are not covered for the disaster, find out if you can make a claim under your business interruption or income protection insurance. Learn more about business insurance.
Insurance Council of Australia (ICA)
If you have any questions about your insurance policy, phone ICA's disaster hotline on 1800 734 621 or visit the ICA website.
Prepare for an earthquake
There are simple things you can do around your home and business to reduce the risk of injury or damage to property during an earthquake.
Do a walk-through of your home or business to locate safe places to DROP, COVER, HOLD:
- look for strong tables or desks that can provide shelter from falling debris
- look for places next to an interior wall away from:
- windows that can shatter
- tall furniture and hanging objects that can tip, fall or drop on you
- fire places with chimneys that can topple over and fall through the roof.
Move furniture and items such as bookshelves and pictures and mirrors away from beds, sofas or anywhere you sit or sleep.
Fix potential hazards in your home or business:
- install latches on cupboards
- secure top-heavy furniture and appliances to walls
- keep wall and ceiling fixtures away from where you sleep or sit
- strap water heaters correctly to the wall
- store flammable or hazardous materials on lower shelves or on the floor
- store heavy or fragile items on bottom shelves.
Get qualified advice to make sure your home or place of business complies with the Building Code of Australia and fix any potential weaknesses.
Make sure your insurance, covers you for earthquakes.
- Disaster preparation for community organisations - Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)
- Emergency plans fact sheet - Safe Work Australia
- Insurance dispute resolution - Financial Ombudsman Service Australia
- Preparing your emergency plan - Department for State Development
- Seven steps for small business - SafeWork SA
- Small business - Department for State Development