How to Create A Disaster Preparedness Kit For Your Small Business

In BC, small business owners live with the threat of natural disasters. Extreme weather events, wildfires, and floods are happening more frequently and more intensely.

In the summer of 2021, the province experienced an extreme heat event that led to the deaths of 600 people. Temperatures reached upwards of 45°C in parts of the province and the town of Lytton, BC, was devastated by wildfires.

Later, an extreme rainfall event in the fall led to flooding and landslides that washed away homes, highways, and farmland. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the estimated cost of the flood damage was around $450 million—the most expensive in the province’s history.

Examples of natural disasters in BC are all too common. Preparing your small business for emergencies could help you save lives and money. A disaster preparedness kit is an easy, cost-effective way to safeguard your business in case of an emergency or natural disaster. This guide will cover everything you need to know about creating a disaster preparedness kit for your small business.

Why Do I Need a Disaster Preparedness Kit?

According to the Canadian Red Cross, disasters like floods, wildfires, and power outages can create unsafe conditions. In the event of a true emergency, you may have little to no warning before you need to evacuate or shelter in place.

All things considered, having a disaster preparedness kit at the ready is extremely helpful for any small business. If you plan to have food, water, and emergency supplies on hand, you will make getting through an emergency more comfortable and potentially save the lives of your customers and staff.

What Goes into a Disaster Preparedness Kit?

Here’s an overall look at what a disaster preparedness kit contains:

  1. Water
    • Enough for three days
    • Three litres per person, per day
    • One litre for drinking and two litres for cleaning and hygiene
  2. Non-perishable food
    • Consider ready-to-eat canned foods, protein bars, trail mix, peanut butter, oatmeal, apple sauce, and dried foods
  3. Tools
    • Can opener and utensils
    • Crank or battery-operated flashlight with extra batteries
    • Crank or battery-operated radio with extra batteries
    • Extra keys
  4. First Aid kit
    • First Aid supplies
    • Medications
  5. Personal hygiene items
    • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
    • Toilet paper
    • Hand sanitizer
  6. Documents
    • Copies of important documents
    • Hard copies of your emergency plan/business contingency plan and evacuation plan
    • A map of the area

You will also want to customize your emergency kit based on your unique needs. Consider what natural disasters you are more susceptible to given your location and business needs and plan accordingly.

Preparing and Assembling a Disaster Preparedness Kit

You can build your own kit or purchase a ready-made one. Building your own may take some time, but you’re guaranteed to have everything suited to your needs.

On the other hand, buying a ready-made kit could be a big time-saver for a busy business owner, so the choice is ultimately up to you if you want to build your own or buy a pre-assembled kit.

When it comes to gathering supplies, first check to see if you already have some on hand that you can include. Start with the most essential items, like food and water, and then continue down the list, adding things as you go. Everything should be packed into a bag that’s both sturdy and easy to carry—think backpack or duffel bag.

Once your kit is assembled, set a reminder for yourself to update and maintain it regularly. You’ll want to replace expired medicine, food, and water. Then, you can train staff on the kit, making sure that everyone knows where it’s stored and when they should reach for it.

Finally, store it somewhere it will stay clean and dry, but that’s also easy to access in case of an emergency.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Taking a little bit of time out of running your small business to organize a disaster preparedness kit is a good investment of your time and money. Your customers and staff will appreciate your forethought, especially should you need to use your kit.

The Red Cross offers more information about disaster kits, and Small Business BC’s disaster preparedness page has more resources.

Small Business BC is Here to Help

SBBC is a non-profit resource centre for BC-based small businesses. Whatever your idea of success is, we’re here to provide holistic support and resources at every step of the journey. Check out our range of business webinars, on-demand E-Learning Education, our Talk to an Expert Advisories, or browse ourbusiness articles.