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Planning, coping, and recovery resources when tragedy strikes.

Every Business Should Have an Emergency Plan (Part 2)

Talk to your people.

Providing for your coworkers' well-being is recognized as one of the best ways to assure your company's recovery. That means communicating regularly with employees before, during, and after an incident. Use newsletters, intranets, staff meetings, and other internal communications tools to communicate emergency plans and procedures.

Practice the plan with coworkers.

Frequently practice what you intend to do during a disaster. Conduct regularly scheduled education and training seminars to provide coworkers with information, identify needs, and develop preparedness skills. Include disaster training in new employee orientation programs.

Promote family and individual preparedness.

If individuals and families are prepared, your company and your coworkers are better positioned in an emergency situation. Encourage your employees and their families to get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, and be informed about different threats and their appropriate responses.

Write a crisis-communication plan.

Detail how your organization plans to communicate with employees, local authorities, customers, and others during and after a disaster. Include relevant information for employees, top company executives, the general public, and your customers, as well as local, state, and federal authorities.

Support employee health after a disaster.

It is possible that your staff will need time to ensure the well-being of their family members, but getting back to work is important to the personal recovery of people who have experienced disasters. Workplace routines facilitate recovery by providing an opportunity to be active and to restore social contact. Reestablish routines, when possible. You may also want to consider offering professional counselors to help coworkers address their fears and anxieties.

Protect your investment.

In addition to emergency planning and communicating with employees, there are steps you can take to safeguard your company and secure your physical assets. These steps include the following.

Review insurance coverage.

Inadequate insurance coverage can lead to major financial loss if your business is damaged, destroyed, or simply interrupted for a period of time. Insurance policies vary, so check with your agent or provider about things such as physical losses, flood coverage, and business interruption. Understand what your policy covers and what it does not.

Prepare for utility disruptions.

Businesses are often dependent on electricity, gas, telecommunications, sewer, and other utilities. You should plan ahead for extended disruptions during and after a disaster. Speak with service providers about potential alternatives, and identify backup options, such as portable generators, to power the vital aspects of your business in an emergency.

Secure facilities, buildings, and plants.

While there is no way to predict what will happen or what your business's circumstances will be, there are things you can do in advance to help protect your physical assets. Install fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, and detectors in appropriate places. Secure ingress and egress, and plan for mail safety. Plan what you will do if your building, plant, or store is not usable. Secure valuable equipment, and make sure your building's heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system is working properly and is well-maintained. You should also determine if you can feasibly upgrade the building's filtration system as a means of protection from biological and some other airborne threats.

Improve cyber security.

Protecting your data and information technology systems may require specialized expertise, but even the smallest business can be better prepared. Use antivirus software, and keep it up to date. Don't open e-mail from unknown sources. Use hard-to-guess passwords. Protect your computer from Internet intruders by using firewalls. Back up your computer data and download security protection updates, known as patches, regularly. Subscribe to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security National Cyber Alert System (Link opens in a new window https://www.us-cert.gov/) to receive free, timely alerts.

An investment in planning today will not only help protect your business investment and your livelihood, but will also support your employees, customers and stakeholders, the community, the local economy, and even the country. Get ready now.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Ready. (Updated 2014, May 1). Every business should have a plan: Emergency preparedness materials (families, pets, seniors, disabled, businesses). Retrieved October 9, 2019, from https://www.fema.gov/

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