World history is full of examples of emergencies-both natural and man-made- which have devastated residents as well as businesses or the local economy.
As cities across the nation continue to reinvent themselves in order to attract new people, as well as taxable income, small businesses or start-up companies seem to be the most popular way to revive a sagging economy.
Recently in Philadelphia, newly elected mayor Jim Kenney has vowed to support small business growth especially in the various neighborhoods throughout the city.
As the once staples of commerce such as Macys and Sears struggle to stay afloat and new small businesses open their doors, there should still be the concern of an impending emergency.
This should go for businesses-both big and small-in addition to private citizens.
Government agencies, name brand retailers and other big businesses all have established emergency plans for their assets as well as employees if for no other reason than to continue to bring in revenue, but can the same be said for small businesses especially the new ones?
Individuals may be more vigilant when it comes to prepping for an emergency, but small businesses too often are more consumed with either staying afloat or their day-to-day operations to focus on prepping their livelihood because doing so is considered a long-term plan or something that’s a vague possibility.
Prepping for a small business should be considered on the same lines as insurance that covers fires or flooding; there’s no guarantee that your establishment will ever have a flood or a fire, but you still need to be prepared for it.
Think of prepping as a type of insurance.
Regardless as to how much operating capital a small business may have, it is still important that the owner/proprietor protect their investment by developing an emergency preparedness plan for their business.
A preparedness plan will serve to protect that business from any type of emergency and will provide the owner with the knowledge of any weaknesses that exist within their structure so that they can address them as well.
As is the case with individuals, business owners must pay special attention towards protecting their perimeter; protecting the front and back areas of their buildings.
Many big cities make it mandatory that businesses install security gates on the front of their stores.
In inner city neighborhoods this is a smart move to make as it will deter any would-be criminals from breaking into a business and provide the police with the opportunity to see what is going on inside the building if they suspect a break-in.
Security gates come in different styles.
Some gates are solid with no view of the inside of the store and some are called see-through gates, but in actuality they have a rectangular window or windows that run across the width of the gate allowing a view of the inside of the building.
In the case of the television show Fear the Walking Dead (Episode two, So Close, Yet So Far) the Salazar and Ortiz-Manawa families were able to use the see through gates as a way of watching what was going on with the rioters outside the barber shop in order to assess any potential dangers.
Using these see-through gates during an emergency could serve as a tool for you while a solid gate will leave you blind unless you have cameras outside the building, but remember that during an emergency those cameras may not be operational.
Prior to installing any gates consider the pros and cons of each style as well as any ordinances that your city may have regarding the type of gates that are permitted.
In 1993 Philadelphia City Council passed an ordinance that all stores located in the downtown corridor must have only the see-through variety, but it doesn’t cover stores located in neighborhoods outside Center City.
Too many people tend to place great emphasis on the front of their residence or place of business, but few place that same amount of attention to the back area even though many break-ins occur through the back door or windows.
If your business has a back door or loading dock, put in some thought and work on securing that area.
If it is at all possible, place security gates out there as well or reinforce all doors and windows.
Make sure the area out back is well maintained (remove all debris, crates, keep large dumpsters or trash cans away from any windows or roof overhangs).
Install solar security lights to keep the area well lit at night.
As a small business owner you may also want to consider installing a generator for your business.
Having a generator is just smart as it will protect your business as well as provide you with the ability to stay open during an emergency.
It will also end up saving you money because it will prevent you from losing any perishable items or having to replace equipment and supplies.
For more information regarding generators, please go to: http://byteclay.com/article/the-urban-prepper-generators.
All people who prep for their home stock up on water and food.
Business owners should do the same because there is no guarantee that once an emergency hits you or your employees will be able to make it home.
Most states got rid of their emergency shelters years ago and the government has established the system of shelter in place (SIP) system which means your home or business is your shelter; that you should stay there unless local or state law enforcement agencies instruct you to leave and tell you where to go.
You should stock up on water and food even if you live above your place of business.
The basic rule of thumb is to stock up on enough water for each person which is about one gallon per person per day.
Most preppers will stock up on enough water for five years, but as a business owner you should aim for enough water for about a year.
Even if your business is a restaurant or café, you shouldn’t depend on being able to use your supplies to feed your staff.
Stock up on separate supplies for staff such as packets of Ramen noodles, energy bars, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), canned vegetables, canned/instant soups, packages of instant potatoes, rice or pasta, cans of tuna, chicken or other canned meat, crackers, powdered/canned milk, and a variety of chips.
For more information on basic food supplies, please go to: http://byteclay.com/article/the-urban-prepper-basic-food-supply.
Plan on how you’ll be able to cook these meals if there is no electrical power.
For more information on cooking without energy, please read: http://byteclay.com/article/the-urban-prepper-cooking-without-energy.
Stocking up on first aid and medical supplies is also important as there will most likely be situations that need to be addressed at your place of business such as cuts, sprains, burns and illnesses.
If it’s possible, encourage your employees who are on medication to bring in extra pills that they must take to work and keep them stored away safely in a safe or a fireproof strong box.
Some of the supplies you should have on hand are: bandages (liquid, adhesive and Ace), aspirin or analgesics, antibiotic ointments such as Neosporin, rubbing alcohol, gauze, cotton balls, scissors, tweezers, thermometers, disposable gloves, sterile eyewash, and Vaseline.
For more information on prepping for medical emergencies, please go to: http://byteclay.com/article/the-urban-prepper-cpr-and-first-aid
All employees should be trained and licensed in CPR.
The American Red Cross offers a large variety of training classes for businesses, for more information on getting your staff trained, please go to: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/workplace/train-employees.
It’s important to create a preparedness plan with your employees so everyone will know what to do when an emergency happens.
Once you have created such a plan, spend at least once a month running drills using that plan so everyone will be familiar with what could happen and what they should do.
Many big cities have an Office of Emergency Management department within their government and they may be able to help you put one together either through training or on their website.
In Philadelphia, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) offers Business Continuity Workshops.
In these workshops speakers will offer your business tips on developing a plan and how to put it into action.
For more information or to schedule a workshop, please contact the OEM at: 215-683-3261 or shoot them an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also access organizations online that will help you prep your business. For more information, please go to these websites:
• FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency): www.fema.gov
• Ready: https://www.ready.gov/planning
• SBA (Small Business Association): https://www.sba.gov/managing-business/running-business/emergency-prepare…
It’s important to identify the important business tools/systems that you have and the functions that they perform.
Some of the questions you may want to ask yourself as well as your employees are:
1. Assess and place your functions in categories. Which of these would you classify as high, medium or low? You may want to create a chart or spreadsheet that shows the function, classification and what specific functions will be affected by an emergency.
2. Which functions are critical to the survival of your business or would most likely affect your cash flow?
3. What is the result if these functions can’t be completed (loss of revenue, litigation or fines for non-compliance)? Although these things may not apply if a full-scaled emergency hits, you may find that once things get up and running again it may be a different story.
4. During an emergency, how will these functions help or hinder you? Would you be able to conduct business without them?
When considering these business functions it’s also important to consider protecting the technology or apparatus’ that these functions depend on to work and keep your business up and running.
Many preppers invest in Faraday bags to keep their electronics and technology safe from possible CME or EMP attacks.
Faraday bags are bags that are made out of types of material that helps block signals from interfering with devices inside the bag.
A CME (coronal mass ejection) is a huge eruption of solar winds and magnetic fields that’s released into space. If this type of attack happens on Earth it is expected to wipe out much of the technology that exists.
An EMP (electromagnetic pulse) is a burst of energy which is caused by a quick increase of charged particles.
This can be caused by severe lightening or by a nuclear blast.
An EMP attack isn’t just hazardous to electronic equipment, but electrical currents, cables and antennas. An attack of this magnitude will wipe all electrical or technology out on Earth.
If it is caused by a nuclear blast the results could be deadly to all living beings on the planet.
Faraday bags can range in price from $10 to $500 and, depending on how much technology equipment you have, the more you’ll end up spending.
That doesn’t even begin to include the bags you’ll need for your employees
Most small businesses don’t have that kind of spending money.
There is a cheaper way to protect all your electronics no matter what their size.
Take a large metal garbage can and insulate it with either a rubber garbage can, thick plastic or thick cardboard.
Wrap each piece of electronic equipment in a black plastic trash bag and place it inside the trash can. Tightly place the lid on top and you have a cheaper rendition of a Faraday bag.
Many small businesses that exist in residential neighborhoods are important to the residents; that many of them depend of these businesses being open.
By properly prepping your business for any and all emergencies you will be able to perform this function long after the lights go out.
Kenney and small business: http://www.phillymag.com/citified/2015/12/09/kenney-every-neighborhood-n…
Philadelphia ordinance: http://articles.philly.com/1993-05-30/news/25963073_1_new-gate-security-…
Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management: https://alpha.phila.gov/departments/oem/