Emergency Preparedness for Small Businesses

You never really know when an emergency can hit. An emergency, whether caused by natural disasters or any other operating issues, can possibly render any business unable to continue providing products and services to their consumers. Disaster and emergency preparedness studies show that over half of businesses and companies are not able to recover from and reopen after a disaster or emergency hits. You do not want your business to be part of this statistics. You want to adequately prepare your business for any events that could threaten its existence. A lot of times, it’s really all about planning. Although you cannot really tell when you will need to kick the plan into action, it pays to have everything set up and ready to be implemented when the need arises. It’s like having a fire extinguisher. You do not want to have to use it at all. But, having it available in your premises gives you peace of mind that you are prepared to minimize damage in case a fire breaks out.

The first step to having an emergency preparedness plan is to identify risks. Know what natural disasters are most likely to affect your operations. This comes with evaluating your geographic location. Flood prone areas as well as areas that are on known hurricane and tornado paths should have specific plans to protect their business operations from such occurrences. Once you have identified these risks, you have to identify local resources or emergency response teams as well. It would be a good idea to check what protocols they have during these emergencies. Take these into consideration when you draw up your own plans. In your emergency communication process, for example, you can include these teams in your call tree plan. You can likewise include some of their protocols in your own emergency plans.

Your next step is to identify key emergency personnel in your own business. Form your own emergency preparedness and crisis management team. Together with your team, you can put together a step-by-step action plan with the goal of ensuring that your business to stays operational even after the emergency dies down. Some of the businesses that are well-prepared for emergencies stay operational, albeit on a smaller scale, even while the crisis situation is ongoing. Have clear designation as to the roles your team members should assume when your plan is implemented. Make sure that your plan is cascaded down to your employees as well. Your plan should include strategies to alert your employees about the emergency, communication protocols for intra and inter-office coordination, and any special business continuity arrangements such as an alternative remote business location.

When you have everything on paper, you should be able to hold regular drills to simulate emergency situations. This will reduce panic and ensure that the required emergency action will be performed by your employees almost on instinct when the need arises. This will also allow you to tweak your emergency plans as necessary.

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