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Business Owners

As any business owner can attest to, time is money. When business is disrupted it costs money. When the disruption is due to a disaster there are extra expenses and less revenue.  Your insurance will not cover all the costs, and the customers cannot be replaced. Developing a plan that protects your employees and lessens the financial impact following a disaster is a key to your business's recovery following a disaster.  It is important to note that the opening your business quickly following a disaster greatly contributes to the economic recovery of your community.

According to FEMA, up to 40% of businesses do not reopen following a disaster, 25% more small businesses will close 1 year later, and 75% of business without a continuity plan will fail within 3 years of a disaster. While the statistic is astounding, most businesses do not have preparedness plans in place.  Do you want your business to be a statistic, or a leader in the revitalization of your community following a disaster?

The following will help you prepare your business for disasters and emergencies:

Business Continuity Plan

The City of Jacksonville Emergency Preparedness Division has developeda Business Continuity Template that incorporates elements provided by Ready.gov and DisasterSafety.org. The intent is to provide a wide array of planning tools and considerations; not all components of this template may be applicable to your organization or business. This document is designed to address a wide audience. 

Additional Preparedness Resources

  • Ready Business assists businesses in developing preparedness programs by providing the tools necessary to address all the hazards that may impact your business. 
  • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has some excellent resources for your business regarding disaster planning, cleanup, and recovery planning.
  • FEMA also has a collection of resources that can assist in analyzing the costs associated with disasters, insurance information, and various case studies.   

Keys to implementing a successful preparedness plan:

  • The program must not only managed and planned, but tested and exercised as well. This allows for analysis of any overlooked procedures or other gaps that may be present in the plan.
  • Remember that emergency preparedness plans are fluid, which means that they are constantly changing and need a regular review and evaluation.
  • Make sure you include a schedule to accommodate the fluidity of your plans.

Five Tips for Business Owners:

  1. Have a plan in place for you and your employees prior to hurricane season.
    • Stress the importance of having a basic emergency supply kit.
    • Identify roles and responsibilities within your organization.
    • Under what circumstances would you consider closing early due to a hurricane? Develop a protocol for closing early.
    • Create a communication plan addressing dissemination of information to employees (who, how, and when).
    • What are your expectations for employees?
    • Create a plan to communicate status with customers, vendors, suppliers, etc. – make sure you have all contact information on hand.
    • Practice the plan with your employees and consider having a tabletop exercise.
  2. Make sure all critical data is backed up and is accessible remotely.
  3. Be prepared to work remotely. If your business needs to continue through or resume immediately following a storm, make sure you and your employees have all the necessary tools to work remotely for an extended period of time.
    • Set priorities on what operations or organization needs to recover following a disaster.
  4. Inventory business assets regularly and make sure you have the right insurance in place.  Most standard CGL policies do not cover flood losses. Ask your insurance agent about business interruption coverage.
  5. Protect your facility and equipment.
    • Are there records and equipment that should be moved?
    • Can you elevate your utilities? 
    • Can equipment or other assets be moved indoors or to higher ground?
    • Have the trees surrounding your building been trimmed?
    • Is the roof of your building secured? 
    • Have you considered storm shutters or other protective measures?
    • Are your signs, fences, flagpoles, etc., secured?
    • Make sure you turn off and unplug all noncritical devices/electronics.
    • If feasible, disconnect main electrical feed and water to facility. 

If the Area Where your Business is Located is Evacuated:

  • Follow all evacuation orders.
  • Wait for public officials to announce that it is safe before you return to the area.
  • Sign up for AlertJax powered through Everbridge.
    • AlertJax is an emergency notification system that can provide information regarding local and county-wide emergencies.
    • If your particular area is flooded and inaccessible, this information may be put out through AlertJax.
    • Register online at this link.

If your Business/Building Experiences Flooding:

  • If you are renting space, contact your property manager or superintendent immediately.
  • If you own the building, contact your insurance company immediately.
    • Establish a relationship with a reputable contractor(s) prior to a disaster – even if they are not available to do the work, they may be able to recommend someone who is available.
    • Make sure to photograph the damages.
    • Do what you can to prevent further damage to your business.
    • If major water damage has occurred, you may need to contact a company that specializes in water damage restoration and mold remediation.

City Services:

  • Depending on the severity of a storm, city services may be delayed (trash collection).
  • Check for announcements regarding potential interruptions.
  • Curbside debris removal will be available following a storm - make sure to separate debris – failure to do so may prevent workers from collecting it.
  • If your building is severely damaged, you may need to contact the City’s Municipal Code Compliance Division – can be reached through 630-CITY.

Generator: Should a business invest in or rent a generator?

  • Complete a cost/benefit analysis for your particular business.
  • Will you have employees working during times when the electricity may be out?
  • Can your network be accessed without a generator if the electricity is out?
  • Do you have perishable items that need to be refrigerated?
  • How often do you anticipate needing a generator?
Families & Children
Talk to your children about what to do during an emergency. It can make a big difference. 

Make a family emergency plan.
  • Go over what to do during emergencies that could happen in Jacksonville.
  • Plan a meeting spot in case you get separated during an emergency. 
  • Pick the same person for everyone to call, text, or email.
  • Make sure everyone in your household is capable of contacting 911.
Know the emergency plans at your childrens' school or daycare. 
  • Ask about emergency plans for evacuation and early closing.
  • Keep the school's contact information with you.
  • Make sure your contact information is kept current.
As a family with children, there are a few extra things to consider during an emergency. 

During a Hurricane

Sheltering in place as a family: 
  • Storms can be scary for children. Talk to your family about what’s happening, and keep games and toys on hand to entertain. 
  • Remember, the power might go out. Plan games and activities that don't need electricity.
Evacuating as a family:  
  • During a mandatory evacuation, estimate that it will take 4 times longer than usual to get to your destination by car.
  • Bring toys and games to entertain your kids.
Read more about deiciding to evacuate or shelter in place.

Infant Care Needs
  • Bottles and formula
  • Diapers and diaper rash ointment 
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Extra trash bags for dirty diapers
Read more about creating an emergency supply kit.

Download the City of Jacksonville Emergency Preparedness Guide.

During A Boil Water Advisory During Extreme Heat

Neighborhood & Faith Organizations
Spread the Word
Before, during, and after an emergency, help disseminate information to people in your network. Go door-to-door, talk to people at your church, use social media. As community leaders, you are a trusted voice. Remember to sign up for ALERTJAX notifications so that you stay informed and have the most up-to-date information. If you have congregation members or neighbors who are elderly or have medical or mobility needs, help them sign up for the Special Medical Needs Registry

Help Control Rumors
False information can be dangerous during an emergency. Help people in your networks understand what is and is not accurate. JaxReady is your trusted source of information during a disaster or emergency in the City of Jacksonville. 

Link People and Resources
After an emergency, volunteers and donations tend to flow in. Help coordinate with volunteer organizations to ensure resources are getting to those who need them, because you know your community best.

Get Emergency Training
Consider additional training like active shooter preparedness, hand CPR, stop the bleed, or basic first aid. You can gain additional skills to respond to an emergency in your community.

Improve Your Organizations Emergency Preparedness With These Resources:

Pet Owners
Your pets are part of your family, make sure you plan for them too. 

Emergency Supply Kit for Pets
In the event of an emergency, your pet or service animal will need to have an emergency supply kit ready to go along with the rest of your family's emergency supplies. It should include:
  • A collar with ID tag, city license tag and rabies tag on the pet.
  • Proof of current shots and health records in a waterproof container such as a freezer bag.
  • Current photo of pet.
  • Food and water bowls with enough food and water for three days. Remember to keep the food in a watertight container.
  • Pet carrier with bedding
  • Plastic bags to dispose of pet droppings and other waste
  • Leash
  • Medications
  • Toys
  • Manual can opener for canned food
  • First Aid kit
  • Grooming supplies
  • Paper towels/wet wipes
  • Flashlight and spare batteries
  • Cat litter and litter box
Sheltering In Place With Pets
  • Bring your pets inside.
  • Gather at least 3 days' worth of supplies for your pet (see above).
  • Read more about sheltering in place
Evacuating With Pets During Extreme Heat
  • Provide your pets with plenty of fresh, clean water.  Pets can become dehydrated quickly.
  • Know and  be on the lookout for overheating symptoms -- heavy panting, excessive drooling, increased/warm body temperature.
  • NEVER leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle.
  • Limit the time your pet is on hot asphalt/concrete which can injure or burn its paws.
During Severe Weather
  • Keep your pets secured INSIDE your home.
  • Provide a safe spot from loud noises.
  • Be prepared in the event that your pet does escape.
  • Be sure your pet is properly identified/microchipped and emergency contact information is updated.
More Resources
City of Jacksonville Animal Care and Protective Services
Seniors & Those With Special Medical Needs
As a senior or person with special medical needs, there are a few extra things to consider during an emergency.

During A Hurricane

Sheltering in Place as a Senior or Person with Special Medical Needs
Evacuating As A Senior Or Person With Medical Needs
  • Stay with friends or family if you can. Evacuation shelters are a refuge of last resort.
  • If you need transportation assistance to evacuate, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) will suspend fares for evacuation routes. 
  • If you cannot get take public transportation or make it to a transfer hub because of medical needs, you may be eligible to be picked up from your home. Sign up for the Special Medical Needs Registry. 
  • Read more about evacuating.
During A Boil Water Advisory During Extreme Heat