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A disaster can happen at any time and can cost billions of dollars of losses in the community. Your business will be able to recover quickly if you have prepared in advance for emergency conditions such as fire or flood. Good planning can help to save lives and money by creating a good emergency plan in advance of an incident.

Creating A Plan

Your business can avoid unnecessary damage and delays if you have a comprehensive emergency plan ready far in advance of when it is needed. The plan should encompass all significant areas of the business and be researched in advance to comply with local requirements. A thorough review of all essentials departments and data will allow you to be back up and running as soon as the event is over.

Preparing for Fires

Fires can occur from electrical equipment or other sources within buildings, or they can become a threat from nearby wildfires. First, ensure your business building is up to current fire codes. Eliminate clutter from flammable materials. Ensure that fire extinguishers or sprinkler systems get periodic inspections. Keep flammable chemicals and materials in fireproof containers, cabinets and storage areas. If you live in a wildfire-prone area, use flame-resistant building materials whenever possible on your structure. Keep a 30-foot combustible-free zone around your building to help prevent the spread of fire. Trim bushes and trees around the building to keep them from being in contact with materials. Implement evacuation plans so employees know how to escape from the building in case of fire.

Preparing for Floods

Ensure that your property and business is properly covered by flood insurance. Not all insurance covers flooding. You may require a separate policy in the event of flood damage. In addition, loss of income as a result of flooding may not be covered. Computer equipment should always be raised above floor level to ensure that it is not damaged during sudden flooding of the property. Important files should be stored in cases above floor level. Move critical materials above the floor whenever there is a flood warning. If you live in a hurricane zone, be aware that storm surge that occurs after the weather event can cause additional damage and loss of life. Stay alert to weather-related broadcasts to ensure your readiness for any emergency. If possible, consider having a contractor raise electrical and HVAC system above the 100-year flood level. If you do business in a flood-prone area, use flood-resistant building materials whenever possible.

Crisis Communications

Set up a crisis communications call tree for key personnel that can help to direct employees and necessary operations in case of fire or flood. Ensure that each of these key people know the emergency plan and can implement it in case of communications failures.

Employee Safety

Your employees should be the first consideration is developing an emergency plan. If possible, you should set up a structure by which the business will receive early notification of an impeding event from local agencies. Set in place a method of early closings to allow them to get home. Ensure that all employees are aware of multiple exits from the building in case of fire. Have emergency numbers posted clearly so employees can call for help when needed.

Information Technology Protection

The information on your computers can be some of the most critical data to help get the business operating after a disaster. Ensure that data is backed up on a regular basis and stored off-site. Have a data restoration professional available in advance to help recover lost data if necessary.

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