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Janice France-Pettit: Make sure your business is prepared for an emergency

Union Bank

Posted: December 17, 2010 10:35 p.m.
Updated: December 18, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Preparing for an emergency, such as a flood, fire or earthquake, may help protect vital equipment, records and other items that will help maintain business continuity.

The following are steps you can take to help your business be prepared for an unexpected emergency:

Identifying needs
When developing an emergency plan, you may want to start by taking inventory of how your company functions internally and externally so that you can develop a plan that works best for your business.

Reviewing insurance coverage
You may want to discuss your hazard insurance policy with your agent.  Purchasing business interruption insurance, which covers temporary operating expenses and compensates for any income lost during a closure, may be worth considering. 

Your insurance provider will also be able to help you establish which documents will be needed following an emergency.

Making copies
Backing up vital documents, including tax information, accounting data, business forms, payroll, production records and customer data may prove crucial later.  Keeping copies of building blueprints, leases, research data and inventory lists also may be helpful.  You may consider backing up all records, including your database and Web site, on an online backup service or on an alternative computer hard drive that is stored away from your business. Consider storing documents in safe deposit boxes or fireproof safes offsite.

Setting up temporary offices
You may consider researching temporary workspaces in case your company is forced to relocate after a disaster. 
Portable generators and extra fuel may be necessary during utility disruptions.  You may want to prepare a plan to temporarily operate your business without computers and telephones.

Storing equipment
Storing extra machinery, computers and other essential equipment and supplies offsite may be the key to continuity.  Keep computer and cell phone batteries charged. 

Making a contact list
Keep and regularly update a contact list that includes information for your insurance agent, vendors, clients, employees and others.

Planning communications
You may want to consider creating an internal communication plan that designates specific employees to inform suppliers, creditors, customers, utility companies and others of the status of your business following an emergency.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about how to prepare your business for an emergency and is not considered legal, financial or tax advice from Union Bank.  

Janice France-Pettit is a senior vice president and regional manager for Union Bank, overseeing the Simi Valley, Santa Clarita Valley, San Fernando Valley and Antelope Valley region. Visit for more information. The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about corporate gift giving and is not considered financial or tax advice from Union Bank. Please consult your financial or tax advisor or the IRS. Ms. France-Pettit’s column represents her own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Visit for more information.


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