Emergency Preparedness for Homes and Small Businesses
Since time immemorial, humanity has had to contend with various types of natural disasters. The earth is not a static entity but experiences constant change.
In California, where Safety Nest is based, we suffer from frequent wildfires in the summer months. We are also in a very active geological area, and large scale earthquakes are just a matter of when, not if.
If you reside in the Midwest, perhaps you have to contend with extreme weather events such as tornadoes; on the East coast, hurricanes are an annual occurrence.
It is vitally important that we maintain a certain state of readiness when it comes to natural disasters and the unexpected in life.
First and foremost, you should make sure you have a certain amount of supplies ready in case you need to shelter in place for a period of time. The Department of Homeland Security recommends maintaining at least several days worth of supplies listed on their website here. The list has been recently updated to reflect the pandemic we are all currently experiencing. I would recommend that each household maintain at least seven days worth of emergency supplies, you should take into account each member of your household and their daily needs (prescription medications? infant formula? pet supplies?) instead of simply purchasing a generic kit sold by various retailers; although those are always a good starting point. Do not forget to conduct a periodic check of your supplies and ensure the perishable materials are changed out. It would also be prudent to maintain an emergency kit in your vehicle or at work, as in some cases, if roadways or transport networks are down, you may not be able to get home for a certain period of time.
The other thing to think about is having an emergency plan. Sometimes when disaster strikes it can be out of the blue. For example, if an earthquake or tornado destroys critical infrastructure such as cell towers or phone lines, how will you reach your loved ones who are at work, at school, or out on an errand? Many government and private preparedness sources tell us to maintain an emergency contact out of state. For example a relative or friend who can be a centralized point of contact. If your cell phone has a signal, try using text messaging instead of calling, as you will have a better chance of getting through. Each member of your household can reach out to the central contact and they will let them know how everyone else is doing. The key here is to ensure you sit down with your family to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding who to contact and how in the event of an unforeseen situation (do not forget relatives and close friends overseas, as they may want to know how you are doing as well).
Make sure you know exactly where your utilities shutoffs are located in your home (e.g., natural gas, water). The same can be said for your place of business (e.g., restaurant, machine shop). In the event of a natural disaster, properly shutting off those utilities may prevent further unintended damage to your property. You should have adequately maintained fire extinguishers available both at home as well as at your business; ensure you maintain the correct type of fire extinguisher for the type of fire you may encounter. For example, restaurants typically have extinguisher systems to put out oil fires that sit right over the cooking range. These types of systems need to be regularly tested and maintained per local regulatory requirements.
The US Small Business Administration maintains a website on emergency preparedness which is a fantastic resource; it even has details on how to apply for and receive economic assistance after a natural disaster damages your business. Just like for your household, you should consider maintaining an emergency plan for your place of business that protects not just your property but also your employees; it would also be prudent to conduct periodic drills to ensure everyone is up to speed and knows what to do in case of an emergency situation. With the recent spate of social unrest due to racial injustice protesting, some criminal elements are taking advantage of the chaos to conduct looting. Thus it has become more important than ever that you maintain a high level of readiness when it comes to protecting your place of business.