For businesses, emergency preparedness planning can make the difference between staying in business and losing everything. Having a disaster preparedness guide is one of the easiest ways to help ensure your business survives and recovers.
Focus on prevention. The best way to avoid a disaster is to try and prevent it from happening in the first place. Conduct regular audits and system checks of your fire prevention and safety systems. Assess your risks and potential business impacts to determine ways you can be most effective in disaster planning.
Establish an evacuation plan. Designate primary and secondary evacuation routes and exits for your employees. Make sure that routes and exits are well lit, clearly marked and easily accessible. Create an evacuation plan in advance and designate an outside meeting place where everyone can gather and be accounted for as they evacuate. Include individuals in need of assistance in your emergency preparedness guide.
Keep an updated list of emergency contact numbers. In addition to emergency personnel (fire, hospital, ambulance, police) and disaster relief agencies, include information for customers, suppliers and distributors. Keep an extra copy off site.
Create an emergency kit. Include essential items such as first aid supplies, flashlights, battery powered radio, tool kit, extra batteries, nonperishable food and bottled water. Make sure the kit is easily accessible during an emergency.
Protect vital business records. Keep your most important documents in a safe that has been tested and listed by UL (Underwriters Laboratories) as being resistant to fire, heat, burglary tools and torches.
Create backup copies of critical data and programs. Keep the back-up copies in a location separate from your primary facility.
Know your risks and prepare. Once you know the types of disasters for which you are most at risk, take steps to minimize potential damage and loss to your building and employees. Try to think of the actions you need to take and everything you might need in case of a fire, flood, severe storm or other disaster.
Understand your insurance coverage. Review your policy with your insurance agent to make sure you understand your deductibles, the limits of your insurance and the nature of your coverage. There are many different types of coverage, all of which are subject to limitations and exclusions.
Keep insurance information and contact names and numbers in a safe place. Knowing where to access this information in the event of an emergency will expedite the claim process.