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Are you prepared? Build your emergency and disaster checklist

Natural disasters and severe weather events can happen without warning, and often with devastating consequences. Or as we have seen over the last few years, it could be a public health disaster or cyber-attack that causes chaos.

How prepared is your business to survive the different kinds of emergency events that can impact your employees, your customers and your financial viability?

Have you thought about what you would do if you had to shut your doors for an extended period of time - could you last a day, a week or more than a month?

Every business has its own individual vulnerabilities and weaknesses, it’s critical to know what yours are. What would it take to keep you in business and how quickly could you recover in the event of an emergency?

Developing an emergency management plan is one of the most important decisions you can make as a small business owner.

The Australian Government has a helpful emergency management plan template that you can fill out with all the important information that, in the event of a disaster, will help you and your employees keep your business operating. Not all sections may be relevant to your business, but even if you complete parts of it, you will still have three comprehensive plans:

  1. A continuity plan: This helps you prepare your business for an emergency by identifying risks to critical areas of your operations and how to best protect them.
  2. An emergency action plan: This helps you and your employees know what to do during an actual emergency: who to call, where to go, what to do.
  3. A recovery plan: A guide to getting your business back on its feet after an emergency.

Once you’ve completed the template, there are some additional important tasks:

  • Review the template annually and ensure all information is kept up to date
  • Share the plan and the emergency preparedness procedures with your employees
    • Consider training them and running a practice drill to test your plan’s effectiveness
    • Make sure copies of your plan are kept in a secure place that can be accessed in the event of an emergency - don’t store it on a computer drive that you may not be able to access when you’re in the midst of a natural disaster or if your electronic records are hacked.
    • Summarise important contact information and initial emergency response steps in a simple document that everyone in your business can access in the event of an emergency
  • Have a conversation with your neighbours and other businesses in your community, help them get prepared.
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