June 9, 2002, I was flying out of Durango to Denver. As we boarded the flight, we could see a large plume of smoke over Missionary Ridge. While flying over the fire, I knew that it wasn’t going to be good because there was nothing to slow it down. This year we are, once again, experiencing dry, arid conditions with high winds and no moisture in the near-term forecast for our area.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is a resource that offers steps to help you in case of an emergency.
Other resources to consider:
Over the last several years, we’ve experienced the Gold King Mine spill, wildfires, area flooding, a pandemic and more. Many of these situations have caused us to vacate our offices, hoping to return with everything still intact. As business owners, it’s essential to have an emergency preparedness plan. Unfortunately, it’s not a matter of if, but when, so here are some tips to get you started:
- Step 1: Assess your risk. We all have vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Knowing what those are and the type of disaster that could impact your business can help you return to operations quicker. Do a self-assessment. Are you in a flood plain? Are you susceptible to fires, possible tornadoes? Or are you vulnerable to cyberattacks?
- Step 2: Create a plan. Developing a plan while operations are normal will help you in a time of crisis. Identify immediate priorities and know where to find the information and which items need to happen first or be removed quickly. Develop checklists by using online resources and tool kits. The U.S. Small Business Administration has free online resources, including a wildfire preparedness checklist, a winter weather preparedness checklist and a flood preparedness checklist. All of these have unique details to help you in times of crisis. Being prepared and having everyone know their role can help calm the situation and provide everyone with the knowledge of what they need to do to help.
- Step 3: Practice your plan. Sporting facilities, theaters, schools and other activities rehearse practice drills so everyone knows what to do in a certain situation. Preparing, following a plan and practicing will give your staff members the information and confidence they need to survive the disaster. Develop an outline so each employee knows their role is in case of an emergency.
- Contact your insurance agent – they are a great resource. Confirm what coverage you have and what you don’t have. Ask the tough questions, including: Do you need more coverage? Do you have coverage to pay your employees if the business must be closed because of the disaster?
- Having a relationship with your banker is another must. They can provide you with needed financial assistance should there be a crisis. Establishing that relationship before you need it can help expedite the process.
We are fortunate to live in Durango because during times of need, our community always comes together to help one another. I hope we don’t experience another disaster, but it’s inevitable. Having a plan in place could help save your business, or more importantly, save a life.
Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.