Business owners must consider the potential impact of earthquakes and related hazards on buildings, employees and operations. Planning for how you will respond during and after an earthquake, and taking steps now to reduce potential damage, is crucial to a successful and speedy recovery. It is important that the private sector understands the risks, makes plans, and takes action to ensure safety and stay in business.
Most businesses have not taken measures to protect their assets, employees and operations from earthquake damage. During an earthquake, buildings -- or their components or contents -- can collapse, topple, break apart and be left inoperable or unusable. Businesses can temporarily lose the ability to generate income when earthquakes damage private property or public roads, utilities and facilities.
For basic information about earthquakes and related hazards, please see Earthquakes 101.
Emergency management agencies in British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and some county and other local agencies provide earthquake resources for business owners. Actions that can reduce the impact of an earthquake include:
- Develop a business continuity plan.
- Conduct an audit of general earthquake vulnerability and a hazards risk assessment.
- Establish a contingency plan.
- Conduct a non-structural assessment of your business, including inventory.
- Hold regular drop, cover and hold on drills for employee safety.
- Encourage employees to have family plans and emergency kits.
- Seismically retrofit buildings or occupy/rent buildings that are built to earthquake code.
- When considering a site for a new business, evaluate the site for hazards, such as risk of liquefaction and proximity to faults; locate near lifelines, such as transportation, power and water; and build to earthquake codes.
Agencies, guides and other resources
- FEMA: Preparedness Planning for Your Business, Emergency Management Guide for Business and Industry and FEMA QuakeSmart Toolkit
- California Emergency Management Agency: Businesses, Utilities and Non-Profits
- Washington Emergency Management Division: Is Your Business Ready?
- Open for Business: Disaster Planning Toolkit For the Small Business Owner
This guide from the Institute for Business and Home Safety helps businesses identify, plan for and reduce the impact of disasters and provides guidance on insurance, disaster supplies and ways to make your business more disaster-resilient. Download the PDF
- Video: Business Survival Kit For Earthquakes & Other Disasters
Discover how major businesses survived the 2001 Nisqually earthquake in western Washington, the lessons a small business learned following a devastating fire and specific actions you can take to prepare for and recover from earthquakes and other disasters. Watch video
- Report: What Businesses Learned from the Nisqually Earthquake
This document is designed to help businesses decide where to spend their resources to protect their business from the next quake. Most recommendations are what businesses affected by the Nisqually earthquake decided to do to protect against the next event. Download the Word Document.