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Productivity Consultant at Organize For Success, LLC...
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Monday, August 27, 2018

Are You Prepared for an Emergency or Natural Disaster? 10 Tips for Your Business' Productive Preparedness

Each September, we are reminded of the need to review how prepared we are for emergencies and natural disasters as National Preparedness Month rolls around. The need to be prepared is increasing, evidenced by how the insured losses from the 330 natural catastrophes that occurred during 2017 reached an incredible $134 billion per a report published by Impact Forecasting. This included a very active Atlantic hurricane season, severe weather events from convective storms as well as many wildfires. It can feel overwhelming to prepare for such disasters, but here are steps each of us can and should be taking to be prepared, minimizing our negative repercussions:

  1. Plan for what makes most sense for your location. Whether you face hurricanes, tornadoes, snow blizzards, thunderstorms with lightening or another type of natural disaster, there are differing steps to take. Determine what types of disasters are possibilities for your area so you can customize your approach, planning for those specific risks.
  2. Gather necessary supplies. Visit Ready.gov/build-a-kit for what to include in your company's disaster supplies and, then, cull those items together where they are easily accessible. Add a recurring appointment to the electronic calendar of whichever team member will be accountable for maintaining the kit so it's reviewed regularly.
  3. Create your communication plan. Establish from where employees, customers and vendors can obtain updates during an emergency situation, especially when and where team members need to return to work. Decide where folks will go and with whom to connect for check-in should your team have to evacuate. Be sure to communicate the plans.
  4. Address potential gaps in what tech will provide. Verify all computer programs, data and documents are being automatically updated as well as backed up from each computer to a remote location. Include a hosted exchange server, VoIP, updated apps and a cybersecurity strategy in your steps to prepare for data issues.
  5. Prepare for lack of electricity. Power outages are often a by-product of disasters, particularly if there are strong winds. Be sure you have cash, back-up batteries for all mobile devices, flashlights to see without office lights and an emergency radio supporting multiple power sources. Fill gas tanks for personal and company vehicles alike.
  6. Get ready for the risk of a fire. Locate all fire extinguishers, making sure there are enough to cover your entire facility, and ensure everyone learns how to operate them. Find out where your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are located; mark the calendar of whichever team member will be responsible for replacing batteries so they are alerted when that recurring commitment arises, and learn which sounds indicate what. 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; routinely test your sprinkler systems to keep them in good working order. Also, know the location of major HVAC, piping, gas and water lines to aid in preventing the domino effect of damage being done to your facility. Keep emergency exits clear and marked with plenty of signage to direct anyone through that area.
  7. Know what to do if evacuating is required. Decide where all team members will go in an evacuation and who should be contacted should you have to evacuate. For example, will you notify senior leadership who will relay the message to their teams or will there be a mass communication sent out via email, automated calls and text messages? Make a list of what essential equipment must be taken from your business' premises at that time, and designate who will be responsible for removing each item on that list. Cull together items that you need to grab when leaving, and store them in a quick-grab bag.
  8. Verify your insurance coverage. Make certain you have proper insurance and it is up-to-date. 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.
  9. Consider how to continue beyond an emergency. What functions need to continue no matter what sort of craziness is happening? Decide how you will facilitate payroll if you are displaced, lose power or have intermittent Internet connectivity.
  10. Have your plan documented. Keep your business' policies and procedures in writing to be accessed from anywhere at anytime. Include within this documentation how contact data for employees, customers and vendors will be kept up-to-date for facilitating the aforementioned communication plan. Upload your documentation to the cloud so folks can access the necessary information during an evacuation or relocation. Then, be sure to review your plans and supplies every 6 months; you'll want to incorporate updates as things change
Is your business prepared for what natural disasters might strike your area? If not, which of these steps can you take to boost how productive your preparedness might be?

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