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.
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.
Evacuation and shelter
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.
Key information resources
The Australian business.gov.au 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.
The SA business.sa.gov.au section on emergencies and natural disasters has resources to help you learn how to protect your business before, during and after an event.
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.
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.
If you have any questions about your insurance policy, contact the Insurance Council of Australia - phone ICA's disaster hotline on 1800 734 621 or visit the ICA website.