The August 24 earthquake in California’s Napa Valley reminds us that even if a structure is sound and survives all the tremors fully intact, there still are many dangers lurking inside a small business.
Hazards include falling objects, ruptured gas and water lines, destruction of inventory and a loss of business revenue that can drive some small companies into bankruptcy.
So doesn’t it make sense to get QuakeSmart™?
QuakeSmart is a program originated by FEMA, supported by the Earthquake Country Alliance, and refined and disseminated by FLASH. It helps small businesses learn how to mitigate the damages of earthquakes. Keeping customers and employees safe is, of course, a top priority. But what many people, including small business owners, may not realize is that whenever a small company suffers a disruption of revenue, there is a high risk of permanent failure.
The average small business loses $3,000 a day when closed following a natural disaster. That can be devastating to businesses already operating on slim profit margins.
Further, experience tells us that 40 percent of small businesses affected by a natural disaster will close permanently in the immediate aftermath. Another 25 percent will fail after one year. Moreover, a staggering 75 percent of small businesses without a continuity plan will shut their doors within three years of being affected by the event.
That, in turn, means loss of jobs, and if widespread, it can mean the surrounding community also sustains a heavy economic blow. Ninety-nine percent of all companies are small businesses and 50 percent of employees in the private sector work for small businesses.
Business survival is fundamental to economic resilience. So being QuakeSmart—a practical way to increase safety—may be one of the best investments business owners can make.
QuakeSmart offers a toolkit with an assessment, guide and checklists that small business owners can use to increase the safety in their stores or sites and increase the resilience of their companies. The steps focus on three levels–space, systems and structure. All of the activities will help avoid or minimize business interruption after an earthquake.
Recently, we joined forces with a growing list of business and community leaders to present workshops and help small businesses get on a path to become QuakeSmart. Our first one two weeks ago in Riverside, California drew more than 50 small companies. Our next one is in San Mateo, California on Oct. 30, and registrations are already surging. Next year, we will be in St. Louis, Missouri and Yuma, Arizona. And, based on the workshop popularity, we have decided to produce an online version to make the information available across the United States.
Businesses who complete the program steps will receive recognition certificate and a sticker to display that tells their community that they are “QuakeSmart”. More information about the workshops is available at www.earthquake2014summit.com, and we also offer general earthquake mitigation and QuakeSmart basics at www.flash.org/quakesmart.
The QuakeSmart initiative is taking hold because the steps are proven to save lives, save money, and create the resiliency that stops a natural disaster from turning into a catastrophe. That’s the ultimate selling point for businesses and customers alike.