National Preparedness Month (September) was created to increase awareness of planning and preparedness for disasters and other emergencies. This includes events such as natural disasters, power outages and public health emergencies. Take the time to determine what disasters your area is susceptible to so you can plan and prepare accordingly.
On the business side, organizations have plans to minimize the impacts of disasters on their critical business operations. Does this only apply to large organizations? No! In fact, small businesses are particularly vulnerable because they may not have the resources to recover as quickly as larger organizations. According to a FEMA study, up to 60% of small businesses do not have a formal emergency response plan.
There are several resources and tools to help organizations of all sizes create a plan that includes Ready.gov for BusinessFederal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Small Business Administration (SBA), American Red Cross Ready Rating Programand OSHA Electronic tool Evacuation plans and procedures.
Preparation for work
If you haven’t reviewed your business continuity and/or disaster recovery plans recently, now might be the time. The business is continually evolving, so you want to make sure your plans reflect these changes. Does your plan include the new location you recently opened? Do you have a list of your main customers and suppliers handy? Are you prepared if employees need to shelter in place at work? In the event of a disaster, you want to be as efficient as possible.
You may want to consider establishing partnerships to share resources in the event of an emergency. Sometimes it takes a village to overcome a major disaster. For example, if your dock is damaged in an earthquake, is there another company with a dock that can help you (and vice versa)?
Organizations depend on their employees. When a disaster strikes, it’s natural for employees to ensure the safety of their own families before reporting to work. It is up to organizations to encourage employees to prepare for disasters.
Preparation at home
Individuals can follow a few basic steps to begin preparing. Some key steps include:
1. Make a plan. Develop a plan including communications, travel itineraries, etc. Adapt your needs to your family. If everyone is separated when disaster strikes, where will you reunite? If you have school-age children, do you know what their school will do in the event of a disaster? Ready.gov has a Create a family emergency plan form to fill out to help you get started.
2. Build a kit. Create and customize a kit to meet your family’s unique needs. Loan.gov Emergency Supplies List describes an excellent basic kit.
- TIP #1 – Instead of buying all the suggested items at once, buy them when they are on sale.
- TIP #2 – Include cash and keep bills (less than or equal to $20) in case merchants can’t make change. Rotate items such as food and water so you don’t have expired items.
3. Update and practice your plan. Your family (and your schedules) will change. Review your plan periodically to make sure it is up to date and everyone knows what to do. For example, have you held a fire drill to ensure everyone can evacuate in a timely manner?
If you’ve already taken at least some of these steps, that’s a good start and you’re not alone. According to FEMA, more people are becoming better prepared: 81% have gathered supplies, 65% have researched preparedness information, and 48% have created an emergency plan.
Additionally, you may want to find out what local resources may be available. This includes local government emergency management agencies, schools, faith-based organizations, food banks, senior centers, and animal rescue organizations, to name a few.
The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to get through the next disaster or emergency safely. For more information on the importance of being prepared at work and at home, follow me on LinkedIn!
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