America's PrepareAthon offers the perfect opportunity to prepare your organization for flooding before it's too late. This FEMA-sponsored grassroots campaign focuses on shifting emergency preparation from awareness to action. Participating in this community emergency preparedness campaign by designing your own community emergency preparedness plans can help ensure that your organization is better equipped to avoid or survive significant loss of property or productivity during a disaster. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States and can impact every part of the country, according to the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA). Be proactive about protecting your business by developing a strong hurricane and flood preparedness plan today. Follow these tips from the experts at ServiceMaster Restore® to create the best flood preparedness plan for your organization.
Tips for Community Emergency Preparedness
Prepare Your Employees: Open up your flood PrepareAthon with thoughtful discussions with your team. First, improve your organization's knowledge about flooding basics by discussing differences between flood watches, warnings and evacuation notices. Emphasize the importance of your employees adhering to these notices, which are issued by the National Weather Service as well as state and local governments. Next, turn your discussion to how your employees should handle a flood. Establish a communication plan that allows organizational leaders to reach out to employees, updating them on any business or road closures and ensuring each employee is safe. A text-messaging system can be highly effective should phone lines go down during the flood, for example.
Collect Emergency Supplies: Stock your office with an emergency preparedness kit in case of a flood. These kits will become especially useful should your facility lose power or should employees become stranded on site. Encourage each employee to create a preparedness kit, which should include enough supplies to live on for three days. In addition to bottled water and non-perishable food, this kit can also include a battery-operated radio, flashlight and batteries in the event of power loss. Employees should keep a kit at work, at home and even in their car to ensure they will have the right supplies on hand if they face rising waters.
Establish a Plan for Technology and Important Documents: While protecting your employees is paramount, ensuring your technology and important documents survive the flood is important as well. The loss of your organization's technical systems and data can be costly and can inhibit company productivity. If your facility has more than one floor, move your computers and printers to higher ground. Ensure all electronic devices are unplugged and raised off the floor to minimize water damage. Keep a record of the serial numbers of all technology devices so that you can file a claim with your insurance provider should they become damaged or destroyed. If your organization houses a large quantity of paper documents, start creating electronic backups now. Store this backup data offsite in the event of a flood. If you have a limited number of paper documents, FEMA encourages you to store them in a flood-proof box and move them to higher ground.
Conduct Logistical Planning: It's important to know precisely how to react when the threat of a flood looms. Long before waters rise, create a flood plan that identifies the roles and responsibilities of each team member. For example, your IT department might be responsible for unplugging computers and moving them to higher ground, while an HR representative might be the person sending communications about flood-related closures for employees. Deciding how you will handle a flood threat long before it occurs allows you to create a focused and effective plan that will be easy to implement under more stressful conditions. If you live in a hurricane-prone region, this logistical planning can coincide with the development of a hurricane preparedness plan.
Run Mock Scenarios: Take that logistical planning one step further by running mock scenarios for a flood. FEMA recommends creating different flood-related scenarios and presenting them to your team. Allow them to troubleshoot the challenges and devise an effective flood preparation plan. Encourage critical thinking by asking employees how they would react at different stages, such as when a flood watch is issued or when traditional communication systems are rendered inoperable due to rising waters. Presenting different scenarios offers another layer of preparation that will give your organization confidence should an actual flooding event occur. The more you prepare, the safer your business will be – both during a storm and after one hits. Follow our tips to build your own flood preparedness plan today, and then use the resources available from America's PrepareAthon to get more ideas on community emergency preparedness. Read the ServiceMaster Restore blog to learn how to prepare your business for other kinds of storms and emergencies, including tornados and blizzards.