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Massage Today
October, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 10

Disaster Proofing Your Massage Practice

By Rita Woods, LMT

These days, we are accustomed to hearing about disaster preparedness, the zombie invasion, when "it" hits the fan and keeping your BOB (bug out bag) updated. What you are not hearing so much about is how to prepare your small business for the same set of disasters.

Whether you have a small practice in your home or a large facility with several employees, maintaining the integrity and continuity of your business is the key to a speedy recovery should disaster strike. Whenever you think of a personal or family disaster preparedness plan, include your business as a parallel entity. Whatever you do for the family plan, do for your business plan. Let's look at some specifics.


It is advised that you maintain your homeowners insurance policy, wills, bank account numbers and such in a portable fireproof safe. This makes it easy to grab and run should the need arise, and to protect them from fire and the elements. You should be maintaining secure backup records of important business documents in the same way. These might include your continuing education records, insurance policies, licenses and permits, and client records to name a few. Massage schools and educators should also maintain off-site backup files of student transcripts. If you have a website, be sure that a backup copy is being created and maintained on a regular basis. There are companies that provide "cloud" storage of your internet and computer files so you may want to look at that service.

A friend of mine was in a F4 tornado that literally took her house out from around her. She was left squatting in what used to be a closet holding a pillow over her head. She had nothing left but the pajamas she was wearing. As most of us do these days, she had entered contact information of friends and family into her cell phone. When disaster struck she didn't even have phones numbers to call for someone to come get her and could not contact them afterwards to let them know she was alive. Her advice is to store information in an online address book so you can access it later. Don't depend on your computer or cell phone as they can easily be destroyed or lost.


Disasters come in all forms, shapes and sizes. If something happens, you may be stuck at your office and unable to get home or stuck in your car trying to get home. What's the first thing that crosses your mind when you envision that scenario? Think that process through, then be proactive in addressing each concern with proper planning and preparation.(I've included links at the end of this article that will help you make a good plan.) Being proactive will help keep you and your loved ones calm in an emergency. I have a GHB (get home bag) that is in my car at all times. I change it according to the season and my destination. In a medium sized back pack I have everything I would need to survive (in relative comfort) for several days. Civil unrest often follows a disaster because people do not have basic supplies. Remember, a person was killed during Hurricane Katrina over a bottle of water. Your key to personal safety is self sustainability. Your office should be as prepared as your home.


Be prepared by keeping your favorite (portable) comfort items in the office. Maybe you like a cup of hot coffee or tea. Keep it on hand and have a way to heat your water. If you have no electricity, you might want to have some candles and an extra blanket. At least you'll have a massage table to sleep on – there is some good news! If it's winter, you might want to invest in one of those portable indoor/outdoor propane heaters. Be sure it's safe for indoors as some are not. Keep an extra set of clothes and shoes on hand. If your office is on public utilities, then you will probably have water as the flow is gravity fed from the water tower. If not, then you will need to keep some on hand. Now we come to the part no one talks about – the bathroom issues. If you have running water, no problem. If you can get outside and dig a hole, no problem. But if your situation leaves you empty handed on the bathroom thing, you may need to keep a five gallon bucket around with some trash bags and kitty litter. I'll leave that for you to figure out the details.


Unless you have been caught in a tornado like my friend I mentioned earlier, you will probably have your cell phone or office phone. However, if you have no electricity, you will need the old fashioned phone that does not require electricity. They cost about $10 and are worth their weight in gold in a power outage. Phone lines usually work even when you have no electricity. You should have one of these for your home and office to communicate with the family. It saves your cell phone batteries and leaves the cell lines open for emergency use. To charge your cell phone battery, I suggest one of those emergency weather alert radios that you can wind up. Some of them have a port for charging cell phones. Do your homework to be sure it serves all your needs. Mine is a cell phone charger, emergency weather alert, radio, LED light and can be run via hand cranked, solar, battery or AC power.

By the way, be sure to have ICE (In Case of Emergency) entered as a contact in all cell phones. Enter the contact person and phone number of who should be contacted in case there is an emergency. First responders are trained to look for this in the event that the individual is unable to communicate.

Helpful Links

  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has an Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. They have made their information entertaining so people of all ages will participate. They call it Zombie Preparedness and it can be found at
  • Naturally, the Red Cross has good information, too. You can find their programs at
  • The federal government has tools to help you even personalize a plan at
  • And finally, CERT ( Community Emergency Response Team) has several online courses dealing with various disasters that you can take free of charge. You can also get involved with them and become a member of the team. Find them at

Remember this: Not to prepare is to prepare to fail. Include your practice as part of your emergency planning to ensure a swift recovery to business as usual.

Click here for previous articles by Rita Woods, LMT.


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