Hopefully most business owners will be lucky enough to conduct business for the life of their company without ever facing an emergency. Many people tend to put the possibility of an emergency out of their minds, but that could mean that you are left without any sort of plan if the unthinkable happens.
If you do have an emergency plan, have you looked at it lately? An outdated emergency plan could have disastrous results. You also have to prepare for how you are going to keep operating during and after an emergency to preserve your business and keep customers happy. If you don’t have a plan or haven’t looked at yours lately, take some time to prepare for the worst before it’s too late.
The Basic Emergency Plan
There are several occurrences that an emergency plan should prepare for your company for which include:
- Health and sickness hazards (anywhere from widespread flu to more serious illnesses)
- Equipment failure and technology-related emergencies
- Human-caused emergencies
- Natural disasters and acts of Nature
You need to include some provisions for all of these disasters in your plan. Over planning initially is smarter than having no plan in place in the case of an emergency. For example, while you might live in place where you might never experience a tornado, preparing for the occurence is better than leaving everything to chance.
A quality emergency plan should include all of the essentials to secure your assets, protect your employees, preserve your property, and prevent further emergencies. When you write a new plan, or if you are re-working your current plan, make sure you include these suggested elements:
- Emergency Reporting Plan – Establish the contacts of appropriate authorities and delegate how they will be contacted through your team. Police, Fire, and EMT services should be at the top of the list, but you should also have contact information for Hazardous Materials and Local Utilities.
- Evacuation Policy – Establish escape routes, include maps with alternate exit locations as well as the locations of fire extinguishers. Make sure these are included in your plan, but these are also obvious and available for anyone in the building.
Go over evacuation with your team at least twice a year, making sure that every employee is prepared for an emergency evacuation. Make sure to establish a safe area for people to meet so you can account for all of your employees.
Establish a shut-down procedure for safely and responsibly closing down building areas where possible and delegate who is responsible for closing procedures.
Finally, notate in your plan who is responsible for emergency, rescue, medical, contact, and logistics during an emergency. You absolutely need a well-structured list of team responsibilities during an emergency to maintain order, keep people calm, and minimize destruction.
- Company Contacts – Have a plan set up for contacts within the company and outside of the company, which should include their responsibilities to keep things moving in the interim while you deal with the emergency at hand.
You should also have on hand the emergency contact information of employees so you can make sure to communicate with concerned loved ones.
- Essential Records – Obviously the preservation of life and property should be at the very top of your priority list. However, you should also indicate how you will preserve and evacuate essential records out of the building in case of an emergency.
How you structure your emergency plan and what you need to include depends heavily on the size of your company, where you do business, and the specific property in which you do business. For more tips on formulating a basic emergency plan, FEMA has a comprehensive guide for business owners.
Things You Need To Add In 2018
The modern era has unfortunately ushered in new emergencies that many businesses are not prepared for. A newly formulated business likely has the advantage, because many mature companies have not updated their emergency plan in some time. Within the last 5 years, the coastal and island regions of the U.S. have been rocked by major storms that have caused widespread damage and domino-effect disasters to ripple out from the epicenter. Maybe you are prepared for a hurricane or a tornado, but are you ready for a long term electricity or internet outage caused by a hurricane? Learn lessons from current events to stay ready. Pay attention to the effects that businesses are experiencing and try to prepare for them in your plan in case it happens in your area.
Unfortunately there has been an uptick in emergency shooting and violence situations in recent years. It’s essential that you prepare for an act of violence in or near your building. You should have a specific provisional plan for dealing with a shooting situation. Government experts recommend a RUN, HIDE, FIGHT plan and training for all of your staff. Practice for the situation and make sure your employees are prepared to deal with an active shooter.
You Need To Write A Business Continuity Plan
Unless you want your business to fail as soon as you face an emergency, then any emergency plan should also include a provision for business continuity. Basically, you have to lay out how you are going to keep operating. A business continuity plan will lay out how an organization will continue to operate during and after a disaster. You should plan for different capacities of operation, from a minimal level, 25%, 50%, and 75% operational level. You also need to lay out disaster recovery from moment one of the emergency all the way through your return to 100%. Basic elements you should include are a backup and redundancy plan, strategic and tactical plan, review of insurance, training of users, and basic operational plan. Check out this link to learn more about a business continuity plan.
Gather Opinions On How to Prepare
A quality emergency plan is absolutely essential to the life of your business. While you might never experience the destruction that some unfortunate businesses have had to endure, you could be at risk for a massive disaster that your business might not recover from if you don’t make a plan. If you have a good network of contacts within other small businesses, reach out to them and ask how they prepare for emergencies. Your network is a great resource to give you a baseline of preparation.
You should also contact experts like HJR Global, where you can find advice on an emergency plan and the elements to include, advice on management solutions, and even funding options. If you need help formulating a great plan, contact HJR Global today.
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