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National Preparedness Month for Businesses: Make a Plan

For a business, emergency preparedness planning can make the difference between staying in business and losing everything. Having a disaster preparedness plan in place is one of the easiest ways to help ensure your business survives and recovers. Below are items to consider when planning:

Evaluate your risks.

Understand the risks surrounding the location of your business using a risk assessment. This includes risks such as flood zones, surge limits, or tornado or hurricane risks.

Focus on prevention.

The best way to avoid a disaster is to try and prevent it from happening in the first place. Conduct regular audits and system checks of your fire prevention and safety systems. Assess your risks and potential business impacts to determine ways you can be most effective in disaster planning.

Create a communications plan.

This would include an emergency notification system. Develop a system for knowing who is in the building in the event of an emergency. Appoint team leaders who will communicate with and direct people in an emergency and decide how the teams will stay in contact and communicate during and after.

You should also develop an external list of emergency contacts including, police, fire, ambulance, hospital, insurance, and utility contacts. In addition to emergency personnel, you should include information for disaster relief agencies, customers, suppliers, and distributors. Keep an extra copy off-site.

Understand your insurance coverage.

Review your policy with your insurance agent to make sure you understand your deductibles, the limits of your insurance, and the nature of your coverage. There are many different types of coverage, all of which are subject to limitations and exclusions.

Know the capabilities of your facility.

Know where your utility shut-offs are. Determine your power requirements and test emergency power. If your facility does not have a generator, consider purchasing one.

Protect vital business records.

Keep your most important documents in a safe that has been tested as being resistant to fire, heat, burglary tools, and torches.

Create backup copies of critical data and programs.

Keep the backup copies in a location separate from your primary facility or use a cloud-based service.

Designate a safe room and create evacuation plans.

Determine where safe rooms are located. These should be on the lowest level of the building and away from glass and/or windows.

Designate primary and secondary evacuation routes and exits for your employees. Make sure that routes and exits are well-lit, clearly marked, and easily accessible. Create an evacuation plan and designate an outside meeting place where everyone can gather and be accounted for as they evacuate. Include individuals in need of assistance in your emergency preparedness guide.

Be sure to practice these plans at least twice a year.

Create an emergency kit.

Keep this kit in your designated shelter so you’ll have it on hand. These kits tend to include non-perishable food, bottled water, a first-aid kit, basic tools, flashlights, a radio, and batteries. Make sure the kit is in an easily accessible location in the designated shelter.

Reduce facility damage.

Keep trees, branches and bushes trimmed. They could fall on personnel, the building, walls, roof, or power lines during severe weather. Every six months, inspect and repair loose or damaged building components such as pipes, gutters, siding, shingles, roof, soffit, fascia, brickwork, and chimneys

Be aware of business continuity.

You should also consider what options are available for alternate workspace or production. You can determine if there are short-term outsourcing possibilities for your clients or customers that will make the location operational if a major disaster occurs.

Preparedness can help keep you safe in case of a disaster at your facility, but it may not be able to protect your property. Our expert teams are here to help guide you from crisis to resolution as soon – and as safely – as possible.