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Did You Answer Irene's Disaster Wakeup Call?


There's nothing like a close call with a natural disaster such as Hurricane Irene to highlight the importance of emergency preparedness for businesses. But sadly, a new survey shows, business owners are more prepared for emergencies at home than at work, even though one in five small businesses has been hit by a disaster in the past. Where do you stand?

Less than one-third (31 percent) of business owners in a recent Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey said their businesses are extremely or very prepared for such disasters, with another 46 percent indicating they are only somewhat prepared.

But based on the survey results, wishful thinking tends to trump reality check . Over half (54 percent) indicated that they are not concerned about a disaster impacting their business.

The survey, based on telephone interviews with 605 small business owners in all 50 states, posed questions to business owners about their emergency preparedness for major disasters such as hurricanes and tornados and seasonal events such as snow, ice and minor flooding.

"Small business owners know what it means to face unexpected challenges, and how to adapt their businesses to survive," said Doug Case, Wells Fargo small business segment manager. "But for many small business owners, day-to-day business concerns in an uncertain economy require their full attention and emergency preparedness may often be set aside for another day."

The results suggest more business owners are prepared on the home front than on the business front. Only 37 percent of business owners surveyed have a defined and practiced emergency plan at work compared to 54 percent at home. The same was true for other areas of preparedness, including having emergency supplies, knowledge of shelter locations and evacuation routes, reviewing communications plans and having insurance policies with disaster coverage.

"While the majority of business owners report having insurance for a potential disaster, more than one in four does not have the protection they need," said Tom Ryan, a Wells Fargo Insurance executive. “Protection against unexpected emergencies is essential for long-term success."

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.