Could your business withstand a major earthquake today? Is your inventory secure? How earthquake resilient are your buildings? Do your employees know what to do if the ground starts shaking? Do you have an emergency plan in place that everyone is prepared to implement on a moment’s notice? If you hesitated to answer “yes” to any of those questions, or flat out answered, “No…” then you need to start today to prepare your business for tomorrow’s unknowns.

Here in Southern California, the next major earthquake is always just around the corner. Being prepared can mean the difference between bouncing back quickly and going out of business. To help get you started, our team of seismic retrofitting experts have put together a list of the top 6 earthquake preparedness tips we recommend for building owners.

Six Steps to Safeguard Your Building from Earthquakes

1. Assess the Earthquake Risk of Your Building

The first step is getting a clear picture about your business’ earthquake risk factors and how ready-or-not you really are. FEMA’s website, Ready.gov recommends that all businesses perform risk assessments that find the strong and weak points in your business’ earthquake preparedness.

Specifically, they recommend scheduling a consultation with an experienced seismic retrofit firm to evaluate the structural integrity of your buildings, and plan to perform any seismic retrofit work necessary.

Optimum Seismic has 36 years of experience in providing seismic retrofitting services across Southern California, with projects ranging from infrastructure such as bridges to large commercial buildings. Our team of experienced earthquake engineering contractors can help you assess your risks and implement a tailored approach to fit your needs.

2. Create a Disaster Plan for Your Business

Disaster plans should be created and distributed to all of your employees before an earthquake can threaten your building. Make sure to include all of your employees as you develop your disaster plan so when they notice any signs of an earthquake, they will know exactly what to do to stay safe. Include your earthquake disaster plan as part of your overall business continuity plan to ensure everyone is informed of best practices for a variety of disasters.

Your earthquake disaster plan should include the following information:

  • Contact information for all employees, including emergency contacts.
  • Develop a communication plan to account for all employees.
  • Talk with employees with disabilities and make arrangements for their safe evacuation.
  • Establish a hotline or a text message system to keep employees updated after an earthquake or other disaster.
  • Schedule regular earthquake response drills to practice. If you practice these drills regularly, you can improve your chances of keeping everyone safe when the next earthquake strikes.
  • Prepare an emergency kit. Update the supplies regularly and make sure everyone knows where it is and how to use it.
  • Make an earthquake safety checklist to ensure your company is completely prepared. Your earthquake safety checklist should include the following information:
    • What items you’ll need in an emergency preparedness kit.
    • Information on what your employees should do before, during and after an earthquake, including training materials and where everyone should safely meet up.
    • Who is responsible for contacting important professionals, including property management, the business’s insurance agent and restoration companies.

3. Identify Your Building’s Potential Structural Issues 

Every business is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to earthquake preparedness. You’ll need to evaluate every aspect of your business and make preparations that are unique to your building’s property and the business you do there.

An experienced earthquake retrofitting contractor can help you understand your risks and take specific actions to help you prevent earthquake disasters for your business and protect your staff. Optimum Seismic can assess the seismic retrofitting needs of your building to help make it more earthquake resilient so you can stay focused on growing your own business.

4. Bring in Expert Advisors

When it comes to preparing for a major disaster like an earthquake, you can’t afford to waste your time on hearsay or just anyone who hangs out a shingle. Your business, your life, and the lives of your employees and customers depends on doing things right and being truly prepared. Make sure you choose a reputable earthquake retrofitting contractor based on years of experience and high ranking results that translate to lives and business saved in this area.

In addition to speaking with an expert, you should also seek out trusted resources for when creating your earthquake preparedness plan. Ready.gov is a great place to start to get valuable insights into how you can plan ahead for any disaster.

5. Develop a Comprehensive Emergency Communications Plan

Keeping your business in business after an earthquake often hangs on effective communication, so be sure you have a plan in place that takes everyone into account: your employees, your customers and your suppliers. Make sure to set up a backup communications plan that enables you to keep lines of communication open, even if you’re unable to access your building for a time.

As previously mentioned, make sure that all employees know whom to contact in the event of an emergency, and consider having a quick text update plan ready to keep everyone informed and make sure everyone can check in that they’re safe and where they are, or if there are any emergencies.

Maintain an emergency contact list with police, fire, ambulance, hospital and other emergency services that employees know how to access quickly. Don’t forget to have your insurance company and attorney’s numbers in a secure place as well.

One of the fastest ways to get the word out about your business staying open during a disaster (provided you’ve taken all the other precautions that make your business earthquake resilient) is to let the media know. Get a statement ready for radio, TV and internet outlets, and have a message ready for customers who receive regular text updates from you. Let them know if you need to close temporarily, and when you’ll be open, or if you need to adjust your hours.

6. After the Earthquake, Check for Injuries and Damage

Keep in mind that it might not be readily apparent whether your building is safe directly after an earthquake, and that there will usually be aftershocks for hours and days afterward. Be sure to contact an experienced seismic engineering expert first for an earthquake damage and safety assessment before allowing employees and customers back into the building.

Schedule Your Earthquake Retrofitting Consultation Today

Optimum Seismic will help you determine the best seismic retrofitting option for your earthquake-prone buildings. As one of the most qualified companies for earthquake retrofitting services in Southern California, you can rely on us to bring your buildings up to the latest and safest earthquake retrofit codes. Call us at (833) 978-7664 or schedule a consultation with one of our experts by filling out our get a quote form today.