What to Do If Your Business Has Water or Fire Damage

Hollywood has made plenty of money from disaster movies, but it isn’t entertaining when the lines between reality and fiction become blurred. Our planet is going through extreme temperature changes, and events around the globe are proof that climate change is for real. There have been numerous instances of man-made and natural disasters that have impacted thousands of businesses in this year alone. The frightening thing is that you can lose your business, which is your life’s work and your passion project in the blink of an eye when disaster strikes.

Natural disasters can strike at any place and at any time, which is why it is important that you are prepared to handle the aftermath of the disasters. A Small Business Disaster survey in 2013, revealed that 74% of businesses didn’t have any form of disaster recovery plan. If that sounds astonishing, a further 84% businesses didn’t even have natural disaster insurance, while 71% didn’t have a backup generator. That is completely unacceptable in this day and age, when even a sprinkler system malfunction can cause your business to become uninhabitable for weeks.

Therefore, it is imperative that you have a disaster plan in place for your business, so that you can effectively deal with the consequences of water or fire damage. To help you formulate a proper method for dealing with water or fire damage, here is what you must do to ensure that your business is back up and running quickly after sustaining water or fire damage:

  • Document Everything

    When disaster strikes, the ground scenes are chaotic, and it is very easy to lose valuable items or documents that could be costly for your business. The first thing you must do when dealing with water or fire damage in your building is to document everything. This means maintaining a log of all phone calls and contacts to keep track of everyone you talked with.

  • Contact Your Insurance

    Since you’re already on the phone calling up everyone, you should get in touch with your insurance company and document all damage and losses. You should also be thinking about damage control steps at this stage and call the relevant authorities to arrive at your business location.

  • Contact Your Employees

    Check up on your employees by making sure that everyone is safe and ask how many can still report in for work. There is no point in planning without knowing the available manpower at your disposal. Most employees will be dealing with their own family issues, so consider giving them time off.

  • Identify Critical Business Activities

    If the business can’t afford to shut down operations, you must determine whether you need to shift operations to a temporary location. This should be done in consultation with employees, so that no one is inconvenienced trying to get there. Try and relocate to a location nearby or allow your employees to temporarily work from home if they can.

  • Find Alternative Facilities

    If you have decided to shift operations to another place, you should reach out to other businesses to ask if they are willing to give you a temporary base to work from. You could sweeten the deal by offering to exchange services you can provide as rent or to cover any short-term expenses.

  • Turn off All Utilities

    Don’t take any risks and turn off all utilities to prevent further damage. The electricity and gas should be turned off from the meter, and water should be closed from the main valve. Don’t use any utilities until the entire building has been cleared and inspected by a professional.

  • Arrange for Security

    Empty buildings are easy targets for vandals or thieves, so you should contact the local police department and request additional patrols of the property and area. You can also hire private security to secure the property completely.

  • Retrieve All Valuables

    If you have permission to enter the building, you should retrieve all the valuables you can find. These can include items like employee records and documentation, business permits and licenses, and insurance policies. You should also try to collect credit cards, checkbooks, accounting records, and money that is left in the building.

  • Provide Updated Contact Information

    You should also inform all parties about the situation and give them updated contact information, so they can contact you. Also notify the police department, fire department, post office, utility companies, and credit card companies that work with your business and your bank. You should also inform and provide updated contact information to your customers, suppliers, vendors, and employees.

  • Proceed with Caution

    You will obviously want your business back up and running smoothly as soon as possible, but it is important that you don’t rush anything. Let the relevant authorities handle everything, as there could be further problems in the aftermath of a disaster. Don’t sign anything without thoroughly understanding and reading it. Give yourself plenty of time to make important decisions.

  • Be Smart about Remediation and Repairs

    You may be tempted to start repairs and remediation straight away, but it is best not to act in haste, since you could be wasting money. You should contact experienced disaster specialists and professionals to check your building and create a proper disaster recovery plan for your business.

Conclusion

All businesses, whether they are operating on a large-scale or small-scale basis, must have a formal contingency plan to deal with disasters. They should also keep copies of their contact list, account records, and current inventory of supplies, equipment, and merchandise in a separate location. This is all important information that can be lost if a fire or water-related disaster strikes. All computer records must be backed up frequently, and a secure cloud backup should also be established.

Once disaster has been averted, and the professionals have done their job, you can get in touch with professional commercial restoration services. Fire and water damage can devastate the property of any business, and every hour spent restoring the business to its pre-disaster condition is an hour of lost productivity and revenue for the business.

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