Awareness about disaster preparedness isn’t enough to keep your company and employees safe. If a disaster occurred tomorrow, would you know how and what to do to prepare to your business back up and running?
September was National Preparedness Month. Polygon wants to help you turn the awareness tips that you’ve learned into actionable items to help improve your business’ disaster preparedness program. Use the following steps to help get you started.
10 Steps to Disaster Preparedness
- Know the disasters that could affect your business. Businesses in the South may not experience the same types of disasters as those in the West. Review the types of natural and human-related disasters that could occur in your area and evaluate their likelihood. A city planner can help.
- Identifying the risks your business could face. Complete a risk assessment that identifies how different hazards could affect the company and the risks they pose to different assets and employees. Then outline risk mitigation steps to prevent the negative impacts associated with each disaster. Learn more about conducting a risk assessment.
- Identify critical business functions. Critical business functions are the parts of a company that are essential to operations in order to remain viable. By identifying critical business functions and completing a Business Impact Analysis, you’ll have a better idea about how the company should invest in mitigation, prevention and recovery strategies.
- Create a disaster plan. A disaster plan outlines the steps that employees and disaster recovery vendors should take if there is advanced warning about a disaster or if one suddenly strikes. The plan should include items such as the responsibilities of different staff members, important phone numbers, building schematics, emergency routes and evacuation areas. Learn more about building an emergency response plan.
- Create an emergency communications plan. List the steps the company will take to communicate to with emergency service providers and stakeholders before, during and after a disaster. Stakeholders include employees, family members, customers, vendors and the media.
- Prepare your employees. Review the disaster preparedness plan with the company’s employees and provide them with the training needed to stay safe and help the business prepare and recover. In addition, let them know about the assistance and support service the company plans to offer them and their families if a disaster occurs.
- Eliminate hazards in the workplace. Using input from employees, identify areas of the company that may pose a hazard during a disaster and take steps to mitigate the respective risks. For example, if a flooding is a possibility, the company may need to purchase flood insurance and move important files and electronics to an upper level of a building.
- Make a business continuity plan. Preparing to recover is just as important as preparing for a disaster. Use a business continuity plan to outline what the company needs to do overcome a disaster and resume operations.
- Practice and test the disaster plan. Don’t wait until a disaster strikes to see how well the preparedness plan works. Run drills of hypothetical events with employees so they learn how to react and stay safe during an emergency. Learn from the hiccups that occur during drills and update the plan accordingly to improve the business’ response to an event. Learn more about testing your company’s disaster preparedness plan.
- Build an emergency kit for the business. Emergency kits for businesses are similar to those that you’d use at home. Depending on the size of your company, you may need to provide each department with an emergency kit.
Kits should include items such as:
- List of important phone numbers
- Building schematics
- Evacuation routes and local maps
- Fire extinguisher
- A three-day supply of food and water for each employee, as well as mess kits
- Emergency reference materials, like a first aid book
- Bleach or water purification tablets
- Matches in a waterproof box
- Battery-operated or hand-cranked radio and a NOAA Weather Radio
- Paper and pencil
- Trash bags
- Antibacterial wipes and gel
- First aid kit with dust masks
- Basic tool kit
Your employees depend on your company to be prepared when disaster strikes. While creating an emergency preparedness and recovery plan requires a financial and time-related investment, you’ll find that the efforts more than pay for themselves when your team members expertly handle a crisis and the company is able to reopen its doors.