When considering the disastrous aftermaths of Hurricanes Fiona and Ian, you can appreciate the importance of business owners creating emergency preparedness plans. Failing to plan is, as the old saying goes, planning to fail. And that’s something no business can afford to do.
It’s better to be proactive and plan ahead than to be reactive and scramble for help after an emergency materializes. But how do you create an emergency preparedness plan as a business owner? Keep reading to learn about five things to consider when devising a plan.
1. Assign Duties for Managing Emergencies
If you run a small business with a low employee count, the responsibilities associated with managing emergencies will likely be on your plate. But if you have a larger enterprise, you’ll want to appoint someone you trust with responsibility for managing emergencies that arise.
The person should have crisis management skills and a cool head under pressure. While you’ll be the boss, the person you choose should have the authority to spearhead evacuations and dialogue with authorities like the police or the fire department.
While someone will head this initiative, that doesn’t mean that the responsibility of coming up with a plan is on one person. It’s a company-wide effort. But you’ll want someone to lead the initiative when it comes time to implement the emergency preparedness plan.
2. Determine Risks to Your Business
If you’re going to prepare your business in the event of emergencies, you need to know the potential threats your business faces. You’ll want to consider your region and any risks that are common to the area. That could include flooding, earthquakes, forest fires, and other things.
It’s also important to consider your company’s proximity to things like roadways or transportation infrastructure susceptible to problems due to weather systems and human error. Determine the likelihood of any problems occurring and the probable impact on your company.
3. Reduce Risks
The next step is to reduce any identified risks to the best of your ability. If it’s determined your business needs to take more steps to be ready in the event of a fire, a fire suppression system is worth getting. Smoke alarms are good. But a fire suppression system will help to extinguish fires to limit any damage to your place of business and to protect human life.
In addition to getting a fire suppression system, your business can relocate flammable materials to more appropriate areas. Reviewing and replacing electrical wiring, as needed, is also a good idea. You’ll also want to figure out what things you can do if there’s a real risk of flooding, earthquakes, hurricanes, or other problems.
4. Develop Emergency Preparedness Plan
After completing the three steps above, you must move on to the development of an emergency preparedness plan. This will include arranging evacuation procedures that are practiced a couple of times per year. Everyone needs to know what exits to take and where to meet outside the office before an official count is made to account for all of the people working there.
Your company’s emergency plan should also include a list of emergency numbers. For instance, the list should have contact details for your insurer, internet service provider, fire department, crisis management team leader, and other relevant people and businesses.
When creating an emergency plan, don’t forget to account for your digital assets. It’s a good idea to have a plan in place to back up important files and documents.
5. Practice Makes Perfect
Once you create your plan, your company must ensure everyone knows about it and understands what to do when emergencies arise. It’s also important to remember that no emergency preparedness plan is a one-and-done deal. You will need to make changes to meet your business’ changing needs and requirements.
While no business wants to deal with a situation that warrants activating an emergency preparedness plan, the reality is that emergencies do happen. And your company needs to know what to do if the unthinkable becomes a reality.
Keep in mind the five steps above to create the emergency preparedness plan your business needs to stay in business.