Earthquake Planning for Small Businesses

Earthquakes are not common in the United States, but earthquake events in other parts of the world often demonstrate their brutal destructive power. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that no less than 45 states are at moderate to high risk of earthquakes. In April 2011 for example, an earthquake in Virginia (and other parts of the East Coast) quickly reminded us how earthquakes can and will inevitably strike in unexpected places.

Formulating an Earthquake Response Plan
For small business owners, FEMA recommends formulating comprehensive earthquake response and emergency communication plans to help minimize confusion in the aftermath of an earthquake.

Building an emergency kit containing bottled water, a first aid kit, a battery-operated radio, and if possible an electrical generator are some ways to prepare. You should also stock enough food, water, and prescription medication to last seven days.

In addition, you should also include all phone numbers and other contact information for local authorities, utilities, and your insurance carriers.

Protecting Your Business and Workplace
Buildings and office space can also be secured to minimize earthquake damage. This includes securing shelving to walls and cases, storing breakable and fragile items in cabinets and drawers low to the ground, and securing mirrors and wall hangings.

Make sure pipes are fitted with flexible fittings to prevent gas and water leaks, and make sure all electrical wiring is in good condition. Water heaters, furnaces, and refrigeration units should be secured to the walls. If available, have your gas company install an automatic shutoff valve to your gas line.

It is also a good idea to have your foundation inspected by an expert to make sure it is not cracked or otherwise fallen into disrepair. This is especially important after a disaster as it is very common to find health and safety hazards such as contaminates, debris, and unstable building structures.

Taking care of your personnel during the earthquake
Inside walls and under tables make the best locations to take shelter during an earthquake. It is recommended that employees practice dropping to the ground and crawling to designated shelter spots within the office or on the business floor. Afterall, “practice makes perfect” right?