Given the recent snowstorms, floods, landslides, tornadoes and even earthquakes, across the US territory, emergency preparedness is, or should be, an integral part of our lives today. This applies to one’s personal situation, but possibly even more to businesses.
In order to provide some expert insights, we recently featured Nora O’Brien, a certified emergency management professional and CEO of Connect Consulting Services, Inc. on our On the Wire podcast. Since it is never too late to start planning for emergencies, we wanted to share the following list of useful tips to help you to disaster-proof your business:
- Make a plan: The first step is to prepare an emergency plan. Whether it’s for natural disasters or hazardous situations like an active shooter, you want to make sure your plan covers all bases and maps out key activities that all staff members (or a designated employee) need to take to stay safe.
- Test your plan: As the exerts will tell you, having a plan is great, however, it is crucial that your staff members really know what to do in an emergency. Make sure every employee receives a digital copy of your plan, post a hard copy at emergency exists and on bulletin boards, and practice, practice, practice. Emergency drills may be inconvenient, but you and your staff will be thankful should a major disaster occur during business hours.
- Create and update a roster: Make sure that you have an up-to-date roster as well as an agreed-upon phone tree that the designated team lead can use to verify the location and well-being of all staff members. Determine a meeting point for everyone so that next steps can be planned and everyone receives relevant operational instructions. Should an emergency occur after business hours, this list will help to get in touch with employees in order to brief them if your premises have been compromised.
- Prepare your staff: Assign roles and responsibilities for key employees and establish communication and warning protocols. Make sure that everyone is trained in evacuation and shelter-in-place procedures and don’t forget to include the needs of staff members who are disabled or who have medical conditions.
- Create a floor plan: Clearly display floor plans showing emergency exits, the location of any emergency equipment as well an indication of the precise area that emergency shutoffs for gas, electricity and water are situated.
- Build an emergency kit: If you haven’t got one already, don’t delay in creating your emergency kit. Include first aid supplies, food, water, flashlights and batteries. Assign somebody to regularly check the expiry date on all items and ensure that it is restocked as needed.
- Create a client contact list: In case your business is severely impacted by a disaster of any kind select a team member to place the appropriate information on your social media accounts and update it frequently to let clients, extended team members and the community know the status of your situation.
- Develop a business continuity plan: Since the extent of the impact a disaster will have on your business is unknown, it is advisable to create a Business Continuity Plan to ensure that you can continue to operate or get back up and running as soon as possible.
Should you have any other tips or suggestions on how to help businesses to better prepare for emergencies and disasters, please contact us.