In May of 2013, a deadly tornado leveled the town of Moore, OK. While experts are calling 2015 a slow year for tornadoes so far, the unfortunate residents of Moore have already seen their fair share. Last month, several smaller tornadoes barreled through the same town—the same intersection, even!—as two years ago.
Besides personal loss, one of the most devastating affects of a tornado is the damage sustained by a community’s economy and infrastructure. When the 2013 twister hit, Moore lost more than buildings; access to stores was cut off, inventory was damaged, services were interrupted, employees lost their workplaces (and, consequently, their jobs), and potential customers had much more to worry about than weekly sales. Not only that, but in their Disaster Impact Report, Dun & Bradstreet noted that half of Moore’s businesses were suffering financially before the tornado, compounding the struggle for stricken companies.
All told, the Moore, OK, tornado cost $2 billion. The even more devastating tornado in Joplin, MO, the year before that cost $2.8 billion. And of those staggering losses, small businesses tend to suffer the brunt. Though more vulnerable than their large commercial counterparts, mom-and-pop operations are less likely to have disaster plans in place, with the result that 40-60% of businesses hit by a natural disaster never recover.
So, what can business owners do to weather a tornado? Experts’ advice boils down to three main areas of preparedness:
- Prep your space. Clear the property of unsecured materials or dead trees. Identify the safest place in your facility, make sure it will fit employees and customers, and stock it with emergency supplies.
- Prep your people. Have every employee’s contact info and make a phone or text tree to account for everybody. Teach employees how to take care of customers in the event of an emergency. And remember, it’s not enough to have an emergency plan; everyone needs to know and practice the plan until it becomes a conditioned response.
- Prep your stuff. Back up important information, like equipment inventory, customer information, ledgers, tax and payroll information, and contracts. Also, keep a current catalog of inventory and assets to help with insurance estimates after a disaster. Iowa State University even recommends storing extra supplies or key equipment offsite in the event your location is unavailable.
While tornado season may be approaching, other catastrophes—floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, blizzards, anything!—can have the same affect on commerce. These are sensible steps for any business to take in preparation for their customers’ safety and the security of their bottom line! One of the best ways you can prepare your people is by having emergency kits handy at the job site. Check out our list of kits and find some that will suit your company’s needs!