Disaster Preparedness: A Quick Guide
Whether you’re just embarking on disaster planning or looking to update the plans you already have, consider the following.
1. Designate a readiness team or individual coordinator to make lines of responsibility clear. The coordinator should know all necessary contact information, such as evacuation routes and check-in locations, and that these also are readily accessible in all operating locations. Have employees provide emergency contact information and that they program these numbers into their cell and desk phones.
2. Set up phone and e-mail contact chains and test them. Set up multiple voice mailboxes in remote locations so that employees can call in to leave messages about their status and you can update outgoing messages to keep them informed. You can do this for customers, too.
3. Check your human resources policies. Decide how you’ll deal with employee absences due to transportation problems, family or personal illness or injury, school closures — even incapacitating fear.
4. Review your insurance policy and make sure you understand exactly what’s covered under which conditions and what documentation or evidence of loss or damage is required by the insurance company.
5. Be ready for sheltering-in-place in case you can’t evacuate. This plan should include everything from a three-day stash of emergency supplies, water, nonperishable food, first-aid kits, safety lighting and even prescription medicines. Know what to do if the sanitation or plumbing isn’t functional.
6. Don’t let the plan gather dust once it’s done. Review it at least once quarterly to be sure everyone knows what’s in it. Run drills to test it, and plan to revise it annually.
7. And be aware of your staff’s individual reactions. People experience a wide variety of physical and emotional responses to disaster, some of which won’t occur until well after the fact. The recovery process can be fully as draining as surviving the event.