5 Misconceptions about Emergency Preparedness

A recent American Red Cross poll of small businesses sponsored by FedEx shows that fewer than half of small businesses (41%) have a disaster preparedness plan in place. Why so few?

Photo: David Trimmier for Bloomberg

The many misconceptions about being better prepared for disasters and other emergencies. Here are five:

1) We will never be prepared for all the possibilities. 

The truth- You have to begin somewhere. Start with one or two of the most likely emergencies and start preparing for them. For instance, creating basic evacuation procedures so everyone knows how to safely leave the building is an essential element of being prepared.

2) It requires experts. This is a job best left to the pros. 

The truth- no one knows your business better than you do. While, bringing in professional emergency managers and planners can be very helpful, you know your internal resources, your essential business functions, and the most likely risks you might encounter. Use what you know and use tools such as the American Red Cross Ready Rating™ Program to help you build a foundation of preparedness. They can help you create an outline of the initial steps you should take.

3) It is going be expensive.

The truth- it doesn’t have to be. Remember, you don’t have to cover all possibilities right away. Just because you are unable to purchase or build the deluxe solution, doesn’t mean you should not do anything. Often, a more cost effective alternate may be all that is needed to get you through the emergency. For instance, while you could spend a lot of money on whole building generators that automatically start and keep your entire operations working during a power outage, you may also be able to maintain essential functions using a smaller generator or an alternate location. 

4) That is what insurance is for.

The truth- various kinds of insurance policies are valuable and should be a part of your preparedness plans. Insurance can only take some of the financial pain out in an event that temporarily closes or destroys buildings or equipment. What about the clients who turn to a competitor while you are still recovering and never come back?  And worst of all, what if the disaster or emergency results in injuries or even fatalities to you or your staff? Money will never adequately compensate you for that. Insurance comes into play mostly after the emergency. Simple actions such as having the proper safety equipment can avoid a disaster all together and taking actions such as training for your staff in First Aid and CPR/AED can keep a small emergency from becoming a big one. 

5) Doing just a little won’t make much difference.

The truth- preparedness is contagious. Once you start, you’ll quickly begin to see insights on how to continue the journey and do even more. Eventually, you’ll look back and see that you have come a long way! But if you never start with those initial small steps, you will still be stuck completely unprepared and vulnerable.

For more information about preparing your business for disasters and other emergencies please visit readyrating.org and the FedEx Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Small Businesses. You can also join us at America’s Small Business Summit on Monday, April 29, to learn more from a panel of experts on how to be prepared for when disaster strikes—register to attend today.

[Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on the Free Enterprise Blog]