Prepare your business for a natural disaster

Is your business prepared?

Extreme weather events are becoming more common in New Zealand, and these can have a devastating impact on businesses.

From hurricanes and floods to earthquakes, these events can cause power outages, property damage, and disruptions to supply chains. Business owners must prepare for the unexpected and take proactive steps to ensure the safety of employees, protect assets, and maintain business continuity in the face of extreme weather. In this article, we will explore key strategies to prepare your business for extreme weather events and minimise the impact on your operations.

Are you prepared?

Our top tips for managing the impacts are:

  1. Assess your premises. Do you need to lift up stock to prevent damage from flooding?
  2. Take photos of your store and ensure you have an up to date stocktake record stored safely.
  3. Double check your electronic back up of important files and information.
  4. Check your emergency supplies and first aid kits.
  5. Talk to your team about your plan and what would happen if your business is impacted.
  6. Ensure you have up to date contact details for all of your staff.

You should have in place, or at least be thinking about:

Core business needs – how would you manage in an emergency?

Develop a contingency plan for your whole business. It should include staff, information, assets, customers, suppliers and distribution channels.

Take some time to sit down and brainstorm:

  1. What are the key things your business needs to operate and how might they be vulnerable? 
  2. How vulnerable to damage is your business premises? 
  3. How vulnerable are your key suppliers? 
  4. What are your risks in getting things you need to operate?
  5. Do you have data that may be at risk? 
  6. Have you tested your back up systems recently?
  7. Do you have evidence of a recent stocktake stored securely (should you need it for insurance purposes)?

It’s important to consider people, premises, processes and technology.

Health and Safety

As an employer, you are obligated under the Health and Safety Act 2015 to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that you, your employees and your customers go home safely every day. It’s important to consider what you can do to minimise any identified risks at your business. Risks include hazards, health emergencies and utility failures.

If you have staff, talk to them about the risks they think are most relevant to your business.

  1. Do you have up to date Health and Safety Plans in place?
  2. Are all your staff aware of your emergency evacuation procedures?
  3. Do you have an up to date first aid kit, do all staff know where it is?
  4. Are you or one of your team trained in first aid?
  5. Have you identified any hazards in your workplace, and done what you can to mitigate these? (shelving secured to wall, sharp objects stored securely, heavy items stored on lower shelves)
  6. Do you have up to date contact details for all your employees? Do you have an alternate way to contact if mobile / landline networks are down?

Mental health and wellbeing

Experiencing an emergency can be overwhelming. It’s normal for you and your employees to feel upset and physically drained during and after an emergency event. You can see our advice on looking after yourself and others during times of stress here.

Provide supplies for your staff

In an emergency, you and your staff may be stuck at work or unable to take transport home for a day or more.  

Make sure you have enough supplies (food and water) for everyone onsite for three days. This should include enough for visitors or customers who may be there too.  

Suggestions for Civil Defence Supplies

These suggestions for equipment and food are guidelines only. What you need will depend on the number of employees you have, the nature of your business, the type of building you are located in, and how remote your location is.

  • Blanket, foil
  • Blanket, wool
  • Stretcher, foam
  • Stretcher, board
  • Rope, poly 30m
  • Rope, sisal 12m
  • Torch, batteries
  • D batteries
  • Radio, batteries
  • AA batteries
  • Gloves/debris
  • Dust mask (rated P2 or N95)
  • Goggles
  • Water
  • Water tablets
  • Hard hat
  • Bucket
  • Plastic bin bags
  • Wrecking bar
  • Saw
  • Sledgehammer
  • Cutter/pliers
  • Axe
  • First Aid Kit
  • Matches 
  • Lighter
  • Disposable gloves
  • Toilet paper
  • Sanitary needs
  • Broom
  • Brush/pan
  • Disinfectant
  • Light sticks

Natural disaster advice: Our hub of information can support you to ensure you are best prepared and then to support your store and team in the recovery – both physically and mentally. You can access the hub here

If you need any resources or wish to discuss further – call our Advice Service on 0800 472 472 (1800 128 086 from Australia) or email [email protected].

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