Disaster preparedness is typically viewed as something that’s done in a personal or home environment. However, emergency preparedness is equally important from a business standpoint. You never know when a disaster will occur or how long your employees may be stranded at work.
Disaster preparedness means being ready for an emergency before it occurs. In general, disaster preparedness involves a continuous process by which all individuals, groups, and communities manage hazards in an effort to avoid or reduce the impact of disasters. The following steps can help your business effectively plan for and manage an emergency situation at work.
1. Gather information about hazards in your area. Find out how susceptible your business headquarters may be to things such as severe winter storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. An important component of this is to learn how you should respond and understand what your community’s warning signals and evacuation plans are.
2. Meet with your executive team and employees to create a disaster preparedness plan and make sure it includes emergency kits for all employees. Discuss the information you’ve gathered. Choose a place outside your office to meet in the event of an emergency and a place away from your headquarters in case you can’t return to the office. Choose a trusted person at a remote office or a partner who lives out of state as your "office check-in contact."
3. Implement your disaster preparedness plan. The plan should include emergency contact information such as phone numbers and e-mail addresses.
4. Ensure that your office has proper detection devices. Don’t just make sure your office installs devices such as smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, but also make sure all employees understand how to properly use these items.
5. Stock up on nonperishable food and first-aid kits. Keep emergency kits in your office with enough supplies for each employee for two weeks.
6. Practice and maintain your plan. Ask questions to make sure employees understand the plan and know where to find emergency food and first-aid kits. Conduct drills on a regular (monthly or quarterly) basis to make sure employees are prepared in case of an actual emergency.
Although you may feel powerless to control everything in your life, especially work-related issues, the one thing you can control is ensuring that you and your employees are prepared in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. A little preparation now will go a long way in the event of a disaster.
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