• Preparing Your Business for Tornadoes

    Moore, Oklahoma Tornado on Ground Fox40

    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.

     

    Cash-nadoAll 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:

     

    1. 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.

     

    1. 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.

     

    1. 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!

     

     

    References:

     

    http://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20130521/NEWS06/130529956

     

    http://www.dnb.com/lc/credit-education/oklahoma-tornado-business-impact-report.html#.VTbV7c4_5Rr

     

    http://newsok.com/oklahoma-tornadoes-for-moore-businesses-rebuilding-will-be-more-than-structural/article/3828411

     

    http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southcentral/2013/05/23/293129.htm

     

    http://www.sfgate.com/nation/article/Damage-from-Joplin-Mo-tornado-2-8-billion-3571524.php

     

    http://newsok.com/tornado-preparedness-for-small-companies-being-prepared-can-mean-staying-in-business-following-a-disaster/article/5404154

     

    http://www.prep4agthreats.org/Natural-Disasters/tornado-and-business

     

    http://www.koco.com/news/moore-businesses-hit-by-may-2013-tornado-get-hit-again/32038492

     

    http://www.restorationsos.com/education/natural-disasters/tornadoes/how-tornadoes-affect-businesses.asp

    Posted In: Uncategorized

  • 3 Simple Lists for Earthquake Preparedness

    If an earthquake rocks your city, will you have prepared yourself, your family, and your home for life after the quake? Knowing what to do before, during, and after an earthquake is essential. FEMA.gov has a prepared a comprehensive list of earthquake preparedness items from which I borrow.

     

    Before The Quake

    First and foremost, prepare your family. 72-hour kits are a must have for any disaster. Your 72-hour kit should supply you with enough resources so you and your family will make it through the first three days following a major earthquake. A good kit includes:

    • Emergency ChecklistWater
    • Non-perishable food (MREs are always a good 72-hour kit option)
    • First aid kit
    • Blanket (keeps out the cold, can be used as an impromptu shelter)
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Books, toys, games for kids (OK, and for adults, too. Don’t forget my Star Wars toys!)
    • Complete change of clothing
    • Portable radio (runs on batteries or other alternate source of energy, such as solar or hand-crank)
    • Important documents and cash (ATMs and bank systems may be offline)
    • Special needs (diapers, medications, prescriptions, etc.)

     

    Of course, there are many other things you could put in your emergency 72-hour kit. For a more in-depth look at what you could put in your 72-hour kit, check out ready.gov’s list for a basic disaster supplies kit. Or, take a look at some of our pre-built emergency kits and specialized disaster kits, such as our earthquake emergency kit.

    Also before an earthquake, make sure you secure anything that could tumble to the ground. This includes TVs, microwaves, computers, and other electronics. Don’t forget to anchor your bookshelves to the walls. Other things to anchor securely are filing cabinets, china cabinets, and tall furniture. Avoid placing heavy objects about your bed or other areas in which you may be sitting. For a full list of ways to prepare before an earthquake, ready.gov has a great article you can look into.

     

    During the Quake

    Nessie I said "Nelly", not "Nessie"!

    As the saying goes, “Drop, cover, and hold on, Nelly!”

    This is fairly self-explanatory (except for maybe who Nelly is). Basically, you’ll want to:

    • Drop to your hands and knees.
    • Cover your head and neck with your arms. This will help protect you from falling objects.
    • Hold on to anything sturdy until the shaking stops (Let me clarify – until the earth stops shaking. You might be shaking for a while afterwards. That is called adrenaline and is normal.)
    • Stay away from windows, glass, and anything that could fall (ie. light fixtures and furniture)
    • If you are trapped under debris:
      • Do not light a match.
      • Use clothing or handkerchief to cover your mouth to avoid breathing in dust and other debris.
    • If you are in a car, stay inside until the tremors are over.

     

    After the Quake

    Although the earthquake has stopped, there are still dangers. Make sure you proceed with caution in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

    • After Quake SafteyCheck for injuries.
    • Wear shoes to avoid cutting your feet on broken glass or other debris.
    • Do not turn on lights or use electrical appliances inside your home until you know there is no gas leak. When using a flashlight, turn it on outside the home (flashlight battery could create a spark that could ignite gas if there is a leak).
    • Use cellular network to communicate. Texting can sometimes get through busy networks where phone calls fail.

     

    Of course, there are always more things to be aware of and keep in mind than what any one person can write down. By using caution you can avoid other unpleasantries and injuries, so be sure to stop and think about the safest way to approach each scenario as you come to them.

    Earthquakes can be devastating, but with the proper preparation and knowledge, you can still be safe and comfortable during the days that follow. Take the time to prepare now, so when an earthquake does happen, you will be ready and able to help yourself, your family, and your community.

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios, Emergency Kits, Planning Tagged With: what to do, Earthquake, emergency preparedness

  • Investing in Food Storage

    Money on the mindHappy Tax Day, everybody! Whether you’re frantically finishing up some complicated math before you file at the last minute, or relaxing while you wait for that refund check to roll in, April 15th is a day when money is on our mind. How much have we made? How much have we saved? What have we done with what we have, and how can we get more?

     

    I especially love checking on my interest and investments at this point in the year and watching those baby percentage points grow up. However, there’s one important investment that doesn’t show up on my 1040. That’s my food storage.

     

    Never thought about food storage as an investment? Let me offer two points that may change your mind. And who knows? It might even inspire you to invest that tax return.

     

    1. Investing in food storage Investing in food storage brings peace of mind

      Security. For many of us, the purpose of a financial investment is some sort of protection against an unpredictable or unexpectedly lean future. We invest in insurance in case something happens to our home or our car, or in our retirement knowing we won’t have a regular paycheck after a certain point. Food storage works along the same lines. Any number of unforeseen events could interrupt our ability to purchase food for a time, and comestibles previously purchased and stored for future use protects and preserves normalcy during those interruptions.

     

    And if you’re waiting for something big, like an earthquake or tornado, to knock out power lines and close grocery stores, think again. A few years ago, CNN reported that somewhere close to 50 million Americans experienced “low food security” in 2011 as a result of layoffs, unemployment, and underemployment.

     

    1. Appreciation of the DollarAppreciation. The hope with any investment is that your return will be greater than your initial buy. So, how does that work with food storage? It’s not like you buy three bags of rice and in five years you magically have four bags. And besides, food—unlike gold or real estate—eventually goes bad. Isn’t that depreciation?

     

    Nope! Here’s how Stanford economist Russ Roberts explained it to an NPR reporter:

     

    "Inflation is low these days, running at a 1.7 percent annual rate. Still, it outpaces the return on a savings account. Roberts says if inflation starts rising, to say, 5 percent, the argument for bulk buying becomes more powerful. 'Do you have an investment now that pays 5 percent? The answer is: not easily,' he says.

    "He explains that a mutual fund might achieve a 5 percent return — but that's only if the stock market is doing well. Savings accounts and money market funds don't pay anything close to that. 'So it's certainly true that cash, if you can spare it to convert your cash into real goods whose price is rising, [buying in bulk] is not a bad idea,' Roberts says."

     

    In other words, because of inevitable inflation, you will get more food for the same amount today than you will in the future. Buy those three bags of rice now for $15, because that same $15 will only buy one or two bags down the road. Make sense?

     

    Not only does food go up in value, but assuming you store it properly and rotate it regularly, it’s also a low- to no-risk prospect; the only way you’re going to lose that investment is if your teenagers raid it frequently.

     

    So, in the spirit of smart investments, check out our monthly sales and food storage specials. And tell us what you’re doing with your tax return this year!

    Posted In: Budgeting, Insight, Planning Tagged With: tax, emergency food storage, financial preparedness

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