Brought To You By Emily Parks
Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
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Monday, June 8, 2015

Prepare Your Business For Potential Fires

An emergency is a sudden and urgent state of need for help or relief that's created by some unexpected event. Regardless of your location and the risks uniquely associated with that specific place, we are all in danger of emergency resulting from fire. Plus, it is important to note that the hazard of fire is not limited to your home; your business is equally at risk of burning down. Are you prepared for such an emergency?

Fire can create disaster for your business at any moment, but it doesn't have to slow your business down. Take the following steps now to boost your preparedness for whenever fire might possibly strike. You'll appreciate being prepared when your business and personal safety are faced with a fire disaster.

- Make certain you have proper insurance. Inadequate insurance coverage can lead to major financial consequences if your business is damaged or operations are interrupted for a measurable amount of time. Ask your insurance agent, broker or underwriter if you are adequately covered for potential property damage as well as what business interruptions you could possibly face. Check out Ready.gov/business for a form that can be helpful in evaluating your insurance coverage.

- Back-up all important programs and data to an offsite location. While many rely on online file repositories, like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, Spider Oak and Sugar Sync, please keep in mind that these are not back-up solutions, serving instead to make your selected files available across your many devices and to make those files easier to share with others. Alternatively, I highly encourage you to consider "set it and forget it" solutions, like Backblaze, Carbonite, Crash Plan and Mozy.

- Make an evacuation plan. The ability to evacuate your team members, customers and visitors quickly can save lives. Ensure there is a warning systems (like smoke detectors) throughout your facility that everyone can hear, and schedule maintenance of those systems, particularly marking your calendar to replace batteries and test the devices regularly. Determine at least two ways for each team member to get out of every part of each building, including ladders to come out windows of upper stories, and educate your team as to how they can use that evacuation plan. Tell everyone to crawl on the floor because smoke rises and to check doors for heat before leaving any room. Identify a location away from your facility for everyone to gather outside their building, helping you determine whoever might be missing, and share this information every year with your team, educating new hires upon their arrival. Remind everyone that, once you've left the building, everyone is to stay out and do not re-enter for any reason. Plus, don't forget to call 911 from your safe location.

- Do what you can to limit damage before being struck by fire. When possible, prepare and maintain adequate firebreaks and green spaces around your property. Consider installing fire glass in windows and doors. Locate your sprinkler shut off valves so first responders can easily access them and prevent residual flooding; on a related note, routinely test your sprinkler systems to keep them in good working order. Likewise, know the location of major HVAC, piping, gas and water lines to aid in the domino effect of damage being done to your facility. Keep emergency exits clear and marked with plenty of signage to direct anyone in that area.

Risk management is a way of thinking that permeates your entire organization, from the most senior manager to the newest edition to your workforce, and seeks to preserve your company's ability to continue in the face of whatever might arise. Being prepared for emergencies and natural disasters should be no exception. Click here for my video of tips and visit the Ready Business website, launched by The Department of Homeland Security and The Federal Emergency Management Agency back in 2004 to make sure businesses are prepared in the event of an emergency.

Is your business prepared for a fire? What steps will you take to increase your preparedness?

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