Planning ahead and planning smart can help businesses run even when disaster strikes. Entrepreneurs must take the necessary steps so that they can prepare for disaster. Better yet, they can also prevent a disaster from happening if they set their goals to doing so. If disaster does strike, it is important for the business to know where they can get aid.
25% of businesses fail top open once more after major disasters. This is according to research conducted by the Institute for Business and Home Safety. Business owners must protect their companies by identifying the following risks that are somehow relevant to their location. These can be both man-made and natural. Each scenario must have an action plan for a solution. It would be even better if these action plans are updated.
The first thing to look at is the checklist and toolkit prepared by FEMA or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Specific disaster checklists and tips:
- Stay updated on the progress of the storm via TV, radio or the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards receiver
- Determine the save evacuation routes as well as the alternative routes.
- Review the Shelter-In-Place plan and make sure that the disaster kit has the essentials and is fully stocked.
- Ensure that there is an emergency communication plan before the storm.
- Backup all the data on the servers and personal computers. If the backup site is within the eye of the storm, take these during the evacuation.
- Turn off the non-critical devices like server monitors, workstations and other electrical equipment that are really unnecessary.
- Check the power supply and see if it indeed uninterruptible. Move the UPS to the highest level possible which is above the floor.
- Inspect the drains, flashing, and gutters and make emergency repairs if necessary.
- Strap or anchor the roof deck support assembly and mount equipment like the exhaust vents and HVAC units.
- Notify a third party about the relocation of the business in the situation that the storm makes these locations inaccessible.
- Protect and relocated the vital records which also include the insurance policies.
- Install the plywood and shutters over the windows and doors.
- Remove the loose debris, anchor and relocate the non-essential equipment and bring this to a safe and indoor location.
- Secure flammable liquid drums in a storage and then move these to a sheltered area and not in the main facility.
- Anchor the portable buildings to the ground.
- Make sure that heavy equipment such as the large cranes is secure.
- Outdoor signs must also be braced properly.
- Ensure that volunteers stay within the site and have the necessary equipment and supplies such as non-perishable food, potable water, medical, walkie-talkies, flashlights. If there is an official evacuation order, no employee must be left behind.
- Have cash on hand for the post-windstorm needs for supply, food, paying contractors and employees.
- Business owners must make sure that the employees are certified in EMT, CPT, etc.
- Tanks that are above-ground must be filled with fresh water.
- Generators, fire pumps, and other company-owned vehicles must be filled with fuel.
- Shut off the natural gas supply so that fire loss can be minimized.
- Disconnect the main electrical fields that are directed to the facility. This is to prevent the potential fire from a damaged equipment getting short-circuited.
- Ensure the remote access of the company’s websites so updates can be made available.
- Be aware of the risk level. Add the map to the Preparedness Plan and make sure that everyone is aware of this.
2. Think about the communication plan because phone companies and cell towers may go down. The disaster recovery and response team must be contacted immediately in order to ensure that the plan is activated as quickly as possible. Have two-way radios or text messages as part of the plan. Another invaluable communication resource is the Alert Notification System.
3. Develop a plan around the communication and this must be delivered to the team. Identify the role and responsibility of every individual before the earthquake.
4. Structural and non-structural hazard mitigations actions that have to be implemented are: bolting the furniture to walls, latching the cabinet doors safely, using hook and loop fasteners to keep equipment such as computers from falling, installing fire sprinklers and ensuring that hardware and technology are secure.
5. Insurance provider must inform the business owner what the coverage is. Extra expense and business interruption policies must be thoroughly understood before any interruption occurs.
6. Contact the facilities manager or the property owner and inquire about having a plastic film or a laminated board placed on the inside of windows. This is to prevent the glass from shattering and also endanger employees.
7. Assemble and store the emergency supply kit at least for a minimum of 3 days.
8. Assemble the building floor plans and site maps and identify the fire escapes, utility valves and shutoffs, hydrants, hazardous materials, locked or restricted areas, standpipes, fire extinguishers and stairways.
9. Prepare your building for extensive power outage and also look at the power options, particularly the generator requirements.
10. Review the current data backup procedures of the business and consider having a contact with a colocation facility or data center that is in another part of the country. Opt for one that is not prone to hurricanes, earthquakes or any kind of aggressive natural events. Back up all the data of the business on a daily basis so in the situation where you lose the servers and networks, then you can back up and restore the saved data in order to replace the equipment.
- Make sure that there is a weather alert radio in the office.
- Have a plan that can provide the emergency notification that serves as the warning system to the employees, visitors, customers and clients in an emergency.
3. Put the crisis management plan for everyone in terms of writing and hand this to all the employees.
4. Conduct drills on a regular basis so that the employees are prepared when the real thing happens.
5. When the timeline is established on the workplace front, then the employees must also prepare their families so that they can take care of their personal matters. Enough time must be allotted for them to execute their preparedness plans on a personal level.
6. Identify the critical employees and make sure that they comprehend what they are expected to accomplish especially during the disaster. For example, there are certain employees that are responsible for IT to stay up and working even during a disaster so that the technology systems are protected and re-established. If these employees are required to work remotely, then the employers must make travel, meal and hotel arrangements in advance Employers must also ensure that the support and equipment needed to perform their duties.
7. Employers must allow a plan to let the payroll, HR functions, benefits in order to operate during the disaster, post-disaster and during periods when access to the workplace has been restricted.
8. If employees are required to return to the business so that they can assist in the recovery process before the services are restored. They should also obtain an adequate supply of water, first aid supplies, cleaning supplies, flashlights, batteries, generators, non-perishable food and other necessities.
9. Update the employee contact information on a regular basis and this should be done at the beginning of the season wherein natural disasters are more likely to happen.
10. Look for the following warning signs. The sky is often dark and greenish and they come with large hail, low-lying dark clouds, and a loud roar.
- Keep a good number of fire extinguishers in well thought of locations like waste collection areas and docks and maintain these properly.
2. Train the employees o how they can use the extinguishers correctly.
3. Maintain a water supply within the facility so that smaller fires can be controlled until the emergency personnel arrives. Businesses can install water tanks, hoses, and pumps near lakes, rivers or ponds. Be sure that the hoses are also long enough so that these can be inspected regularly.
4. If the business is located in an area that is prone to freezing temperatures, be sure that the pumps and water outlets are protected.
5. Evaluate the water levels in the extreme cold and hot weather conditions.
6. If the water pump turns to electrical power to function, consider obtaining the gasoline or even the diesel-powered generator or pump so that when the electricity is cut off during the fire, it can still function. Businesses should nonetheless be aware that there is a risk when large quantities of fuel are stored. Use the appropriate storage facility and ensure that these protected against fire and other impacts.
- Review the Emergency Plan with key employees and the team.
- Take all the necessary steps in preventing the release of the dangerous chemical that can be stored on the property. Locate the electrical shut off and the main gas in order to anchor the fuel tanks.
3. Postpone the receipt of couriers, deliveries, and goods.
4. Contact the company’s insurance agent and discuss this policy.
5. Establish the emergency communication method such as the phone tree or the Alert Notification System. Identify the meeting time and place for the key employees that are involved in the Crisis Management Team. Examples are creating the voicemail for evacuation and also checking in people when they are out of office.
6. They should also update the disaster recovery kits and start the back-up procedures for the crisis.
7. Maintain the accurate inventory of the products on the website.
8. Use the plugs to prevent the floodwater when backing up into drains and install the flood vents in order to flood-proof the barriers.
9. Stay tuned to the local media as well as the messages of the community.
- Check the insurance coverage if there is protection against hazards brought by winter. 2. Develop the procedure when restoring the electrical services on a per item basis.
3. Develop the procedure required when relocating undamaged and salvageable supplies and stock.
4. Add the following supplies to the disaster supplies kit such as sand so that traction can be improved, rock salt in order to melt the ice on the driveways and snow shovels such as removal equipment.
5. Determine the greatest risk potential such as loss of heat, loss of access due to ice and snow and frozen pipes.
6. Identify the responsible person for keeping the heating equipment that is in good working order – it can either be the landlord or the business owner.
7. Identify the person who is responsible for removing the snow and ice. It can either be the landlord or the business owner.
8. Determine the equipment that is necessary to protect from freeze up such as telecommunications, computers, manufacturing equipment.
9. Check if portable heaters or other emergency equipment are required.
10. Make sure that there are alternative ways to enter the business promises if snow and ice do prohibit the access.
11. All openings must be sealed with insulation and caulking where cold air can also enter.
12. Repair the roofs and walls so that draft is prevented. Inspect the roof drains for debris.
13. Make sure that the storm windows are effective, as long as this is appropriate.
14. Make sure that the heat-producing process and heating equipment is in proper working condition and can operate efficiently.
15. Arrange the removal of snow from doorways, driveways and roofs.
16. Drain all the idle pumps along with the compressors and make sure that the jackets are vented. Provide the proper lubrication on the necessary equipment in order for it to operate properly during the cold.
Businesses are in charge of their employees and the companies before, during and after the emergency. By making sure that all the bases are covered, they can still function once the weather goes back to normal.