The Big One Is Still Coming

As I write this, the earthquakes in Ridgecrest, California happened less than one week ago. We are fortunate that these earthquakes occurred in a less populated area. Imagine the damage if they had occurred in San Francisco or the Los Angeles area. Make no mistake, more earthquakes are coming. We need to use this as reminder of how important it is to be prepared.

Some of you probably went out and stocked up on various supplies. Some of you are adequately prepared already. Others, well, thought about it but still have not done anything. My husband and I feel we are well prepared but when talking about it, we realized we have let our water supply run down to enough to last 1 day! We always had several cases of water available but not any more so this “wake up” call was a good time for us to evaluate ourselves.

First and foremost, most insurance policies DO NOT have earthquake coverage. Earthquake can be added to some policies or it can be purchased on a separate policy. This is the same for business insurance as well as homeowner’s insurance. It is best to check your policies or check with your insurance agent to determine if you have the coverage. Once an earthquake occurs, most insurance companies will put a moratorium on writing earthquake coverage for a certain period of time. This is why it is important for you to decide if you want the coverage. It might not be available in the future.

You must create an emergency plan, not only for your business but your home as well. Talk to your employees about what you expect them to do in the event of an earthquake. All employees should be made aware of the plant but appoint one to be in charge. There is a good chance you will not be at your business when it occurs, and you may not be able to get in touch with them. WRITE the plan down, share it with all your employees and discuss it with them. Keep a copy of your plan in a convenient location where employees can get to it. Part of your plan should include what can be done to keep your customers coming in. This applies to your home as well. Designate meeting places. What if roads are closed? All your family members should have a clear understanding of what to do in the event of a catastrophe.

Part of this emergency plan should include a plan to continue your business. Utilities may be turned off for days. Do you have a generator? Should you have one? What about supplies? Talk to your suppliers and ask what you can expect from them in the way of support. You might have to run your business from a nearby location. If you formulate these plans now, your business will survive and recover quicker.

Building a kit of supplies is important. It should include a battery powered radio or television. This may be the only way you can monitor what is happening around you. Food and water are important, of course. Extra water is necessary. You may even have customers stuck into your business with you. There are several websites where you can buy complete earthquake kits. You can then supplement additional things you may need. Another important thing is to have CASH. Keep small bills handy at your business as well as home. ATMs won’t work if there is no electricity. I had not really thought about that, but this is important.

After the earthquake, it is important to stay calm. Your employee that you appoint to be in charge should be a calming influence and ready to take the responsibility. He/she will have to be a leader for your other employees until you can be available.

I have just touched briefly on this subject. There are so many websites available to help you with your planning. The American Red Cross – www.redcross.org has a wealth of valuable information. Also www.earthquakecountry.org/prepare is another. One website www.temblor.net offers users a look at nearby earthquake faults.

Statistics say only 60% of small businesses reopen after a major disaster. If you plan ahead, you will be one of the 60%