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Emergency Planning for Business Preparedness


Emergency planning is vital to the longevity of your small business. In today’s modern society, entrepreneurs must be prepared to combat any potential threats. The Insurance Institute found over 40% of small businesses were forced to close after sustaining serious damage. From cyber security attacks to looming natural disasters, there is a wide range of emergencies that every business owner should be equipped to tackle. Yet, over half of small business owners lack a solid plan to address future catastrophic events. Let’s break down the various hazardous events that need to be included in your emergency plan.  

Hurricane season

North Carolina is at high risk for hurricanes, tropical storms, and other hazards. Ahead of a hurricane, be sure to back up data and important files, implement a back up power system, and establish an emergency communications plan. If a storm approaches, protect your property by installing window storm shutters or plywood over windows and doors, relocate nonessential equipment that could blow away, and have cash readily available. After the storm dies, take note of all safety hazards, begin debris removal to prevent further damage.


Tornado season

Devise a plan that determines where patrons would gather if a tornado is headed your way. Stay away from windows! Gather materials to assemble a disaster supplies kit. Once the tornado passes, watch out for fallen power lines, assess damage to your property, and listen to the radio for information and instructions. 



North Carolina ranks in the top five for lighting fatalities in the country, even though lightning strikes are scarce. If you are outside, remember to stay away from trees, utility polls, metal like fences, and water. For those of you who are solely inside, be aware that plumbing is a conductor of electricity. Don’t use electrical equipment or corded phones while inside. The Lightning Protection Institute says that lightning rods are useful when used in conjunction with a lightning protection system. Lightning safety in NC: myths and facts | Raleigh News & Observer (


Active Shooter

Active shooter preparedness must be a top priority for any business owner concerned about the wellbeing of their customers and employees. To minimize fatalities, you must commit to acting before tragedy strikes. 


  1. Prevention: Be conscious of common pre-attack behaviors, like past or current employees that are overly fascinated with past shootings, have a history of aggression towards authority figures, have experienced a traumatic life event, etc. 
  2. Protection: Develop an emergency operation plan prior to an incident, which should include an emergency communication system to notify employees of an incident. 
  3. Mitigation: Organize a threat assessment team to forecast potential danger. 
  4. Response: Provide your employees with the tools to act swiftly to notify authorities. Employees should be trained to map out evacuation routes to escape from imminent danger. 
  5. Recovery: As your business prepares for both the response and recovery period, FEMA offer’s helpful principles to move forward in the recovery process. 

Cyber attacks

Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” If you haven’t already, assemble a team to focus on the development of your emergency preparation plan. Cyber attacks are increasingly becoming a threat as we continue to rely on technology. Globally, businesses are being attacked around every 11 seconds, with an estimated $20 billion in losses by the end of this year, according to Cybersecurity Ventures. There are several steps you can take to limit your vulnerability against a cyber threat.


  • Always remember to use strong passwords. Last Pass is a great platform to store all your passwords in one place. 
  • Never click on links or open emails from foreign senders. 
  • Use antivirus and ant-malware software to scan folders and files. 
  • Employ a firewall to guard your computer systems. 
  • Ensure your operating system is updated as the updated versions are to protect user’s data. 
  • Utilize an intrusion detection tool to determine if your system is being breached. 
  • The cloud is a perfect system to back up your data in case an unknown invasion tries to wipe out your important documentation.
  • Appoint a security expert to check the security of your system regularly. 


If you need any additional guidance, consult your local Small Business Administration resource partners. They can also help you apply for disaster loans and provide advice on what to do after a hurricane strikes. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety have tips to create your own business continuity plan. Ready NC is also a great resource to plan, prepare, and stay informed on emergency disasters. 


Additional Resources: Emergency Preparedness for Small Businesses in North Carolina (


Chandler Vaughan, Project Manager, EYOS Fellow


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