Natural disasters are frightening, unavoidable catastrophes that can wreak havoc on your organization, if you aren’t duly prepared. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 15 disasters had taken place by October 2017, with damages reaching well over $1 billion in the United States alone. This number does not include some of the wildfires that would plague California, with droughts happening in many other states. Needless to say, it is vital to design and enact procedures that ensure you can respond appropriately if a natural disaster occurs in your area.
With the recent natural disasters in mind, an organization can never be too prepared. It is of the utmost importance to familiarize yourself with how your organization can prepare for the worst.
Consider your Immediate Response
The first thing to consider is your organization’s immediate response. A reliable emergency response plan can equip your staff members with the proper knowledge to respond, when a natural disaster hits. This plan should include all up-to-date evacuation routes with which your team is very familiar with. These escape routes should be clearly posted throughout your buildings, along with any emergency phone numbers. Also, be sure to have a clear communication strategy, so that while your operations are down, you are still able to effectively and efficiently communicate with your employees.
It is key for every member of your staff to understand his or her role, in the case of an emergency. Delegate specific responsibilities to each person and explain how you can all work together as a team, while you review your emergency response plan, so that they may familiarize themselves with their task(s). If possible, try to practice as many elements of your plan as you can.
Have a Communication Plan for your Staff
In the event that a natural disaster forces your organization to evacuate an area, making a family communication plan for each staff member is extremely important. Every staff member should, in advance, identify a friend or relative that lives out of state/province. This emergency contact should be reachable by phone, so the staff member’s family can call and confirm that he or she is safe. Keeping updated information in every staff member’s “in case of emergency” file is the first step to ensuring that the right people can be contacted when something happens.
Stock Up for your Emergency Kit
Every organization must have a minimum of 72 hours’ worth of food, water, medicine, and other items in a designated emergency kit, in the event of a natural disaster. According to the FEMA website, every kit should have:
- Water (1-2 gallons per person for 72+ hours)
- Food (72+ hours worth of non-perishable food items)
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Moist towelettes and garbage bags
- First aid kit
- Dust mask to help filter out contaminated air
- Duct tape, in the event that you need to seal the building from outside air
- Can opener
- Local maps
- Cell phone chargers, inverter, or solar charger
- Copies of any important documents
Read more about what FEMA suggests for your organization’s emergency kit here.
As another preventative measure, ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage so that you can protect your facilities. Reviewing these insurance policies on a regular basis can help prevent any potential major losses for your organization. Organizations can also invest in risk reduction through risk mapping and ensuring that your infrastructure can withstand earthquakes and floods.
A natural disaster tends to be very harrowing but, with proper preparation, you can help alleviate much of the destruction a natural disaster may bring, and keep your organization safe.