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1 Emergency Preparedness: It s Your Business Five Tips to Kick-Start Your Company s Disaster Plan a publication of

2 Table of Contents Introduction Are you prepared for disaster? People should be protected AND proactive Did you know? Keeping a list Communication is crucial and evolving... 7 Did you know? Using social media This is not your grandfather s shelter Did you know? Natural disasters Back it up, pack it up and safeguard Did you know? Man-made disasters Hope for the best, but plan for the worst Conclusion Plan ahead to stay in business LDR Cleaning and Restoration 2

3 Introduction LDR Cleaning and Restoration 3

4 Being prepared. It s as much a part of our daily business lives as breathing. We prepare for staff meetings, presentations to potential clients and payroll every two weeks. Prepare for little things like shipping packages, and big deals like corporate mergers. And of course, we prepare vats of coffee to get us through our jam-packed days. But here s a sobering thought: How many businesses are prepared for disaster? Not nearly enough, according to data cited at ready.gov. They report that nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents to an Ad Council survey do not have an emergency plan in place for their business. If a company devotes time to planning for the what-if scenarios, it will eliminate the just-in-time decision making that sometimes leads to costly mistakes if the proper planning is not in place, advises Christina Kamer, Ed.D., an expert in the field of human resources. The amount of time it takes to develop a disaster plan is an investment in the business and should be taken seriously so the leadership team is ready if and when a disaster occurs. What can make or break your company s chance for survival? Implementing a business emergency preparedness plan before disaster strikes. No matter what type of business you run or how many people you employ, there s no question that having a plan in place can save valuable recovery time post-disaster and, much more importantly, invaluable human lives. Bottom line: If you ve put your company s emergency preparedness plan on the backburner, it s time to bump this project up to the top of the priority list. Because as we all know, disaster can strike at any time, in any season, and in many different forms with no respect for your busy schedule. So ask the front desk to hold your calls, gather your team and commit to getting your plan done. The following five tips will provide a kick-start to the emergency preparedness process. LDR Cleaning and Restoration 4

5 Tip #1: People should be protected AND proactive. No matter what technological mayhem a disaster can bring upon your business, the safety of your staff always takes precedence. But when developing your emergency plan, remember that it s not just about protecting your people it s also about including them. Start by engaging them in the planning process. One of your first steps will be to put together an emergency planning team composed of co-workers from all levels, the size of which will vary depending upon the size of your staff. A primary crisis manager may be appointed to lead the team if your office does not have a risk coordinator on staff; but remember, an effective plan does not rely upon the actions of one person. If you work in a multi-business building, consider inviting a representative from a neighboring business to join your efforts. When assembling your emergency team, think outside the box and outside the office. Your insurance agent, for example, is an integral part of your team and should be able to provide advice throughout the planning process. Likewise, you should pre-select a reputable disaster cleaning and restoration specialist in your area that provides such services as water extraction, structural and contents drying, and soot and odor removal, as well as pre-loss inventory of your salvageable and non-salvageable items. Remember, putting your people in place BEFORE disaster strikes saves lives, stress, and recovery time. The frantic hours during an emergency and its aftermath are not the time to do your homework. LDR Cleaning and Restoration 5

6 Did you know? It s smart to keep a list of all employees and their personal contact information in a safe location that s easily accessible during and after an emergency. Identify: Employees with special needs who will need assistance during emergency. Employees with special skills (such as medical knowledge or fluency in a foreign language) who can assist in an emergency. } } Be sure the list includes your insurance agent and disaster cleaning/restoration specialist so that you can reach them in minutes not hours after disaster strikes. LDR Cleaning and Restoration 6

7 Tip #2: Communication is crucial and evolving. Now that you ve assembled your emergency planning team, how will you alert them and the rest of your staff that disaster is near? Communication is crucial, and today, there are more opportunities than ever to get the word out fast. Communication efforts during an emergency can be divided into two categories: Internal communication External communication Internal communication is how you will alert your staff. In a small office environment, internal communication will most likely involve word of mouth. Employees will gather together around a TV, radio or computer to follow the latest information on an impending blizzard, for example. In larger office settings, internal communication about an impending emergency may be sent via the intranet, an overhead paging system, text alerts to employee cell phones, and other methods. Internal communication can be used to give employees instructions before, updates during, and notification after an emergency has taken place. External communication involves contacting employees family members to let them know the status of their loved ones, as well as contacting company stakeholders and even (if time allows) key clients and vendors. More and more, social media is playing an important role in post-disaster external communication efforts. In many cases, external communication also includes public relations getting the word out to the public (and potential clients) that your business has sustained minimal damage during a tornado and will be up and running soon, for example. If your company does not have an in- or out-of-house PR agent, appoint a spokesperson from your staff to prepare press releases and field questions from the media. LDR Cleaning and Restoration 7

8 Did you know? During recent tornado disasters in Missouri and Kentucky, a national restaurant chain used social media including Facebook and Twitter to confirm that its staff members were okay, as well as to help raise money for relief funds. LDR Cleaning and Restoration 8

9 Tip #3: This is not your grandfather s shelter. Provide emergency supplies in your storm shelter, including but not limited to: Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days) First aid kit Non-perishable food Battery-powered commercial radio NOAA weather radio Flashlights Extra batteries Blankets Toiletries Dust or filter masks Portable generator and back-up lights Petty cash } } Does shelter have phone/ internet access? If not, consider alternative means of communication. Remember your school days and the excitement of participating in fire and tornado drills? Today, schools have added earthquake and even terrorism drills to their agendas. In both the academic and business worlds, there s no denying that times have changed and the terms evacuation and shelter have taken on new meaning. If you must leave the workplace quickly, decide in advance where to go and make these plans clear to your staff. Practice evacuation procedures regularly, and be sure to review with newly hired staff. Today, it is recommended that your business have two types of shelters at the ready: Storm shelter Shelter-in-place Storm shelters are used during natural disasters such as tornadoes, high winds, severe thunderstorms and blizzards. (During an earthquake it is advised to take cover under desks away from windows and tall, heavy furniture.) LDR Cleaning and Restoration 9

10 Tip #3, continued In the case of a fire or flood, designate a meeting area away from the office. Make sure all exits are clearly marked, and post maps in large office settings as necessary. And we can never be reminded often enough to double-check that smoke alarms, sprinklers, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. So, what s a shelter-in-place? It s a relatively new concept: an interior room at your worksite, preferably free of windows, that can be sealed off with pre-measured lengths of plastic sheeting and duct tape (which you should have on hand in the shelter). There are times of uncertainty when local authorities may order everyone to stay put and this is where your team will go until the threat has passed, be it a chemical disaster, nuclear accident or an act of terrorism. Above all, in any disaster, remember what you learned in school: Stay calm! Some things never change. LDR Cleaning and Restoration 10

11 Did you know? Natural disasters that commonly occur in the Midwest include floods, fires, tornadoes and blizzards. Not as common but also not to be ignored is the threat of earthquakes. Keep in mind that the New Madrid fault, site of four of the most violent earthquakes recorded in our country s history, runs right down the center of the U.S. through St. Louis and Memphis. LDR Cleaning and Restoration 11

12 Tip #4: Back it up, pack it up and safeguard! Suggested documents to duplicate and safeguard include: Insurance policies Personnel files Tax statements (last three years) Bank account records Client and vendor contracts Building plans Office lease Credit card information } } Cash on hand to cover needs The title of this tip bears repeating because it s just that important. Where would your business be without the data and documents that fill your hard drives and file drawers? Or the inventory that stocks your warehouse? Back it up, pack it up and safeguard. Regularly backing up your data is a pain, true, but it is also a must. Set aside one day of the week to do it and stick to it. You can back up data, put it on disks and store it offsite. Or, there are several Web-based file-hosting services where your important information will remain secure. Important paper and electronic files should be safeguarded in fireproof, waterproof containers stored in a high, protected area. It s even recommended to store a second set of these documents off site. Think of these as the tools that will help you restart your business, worst-case scenario. As important as this stuff is the lifeblood of your company, it seems it is never wise to risk your company s most valuable assets: your people. In the event of an emergency, do not waste precious time gathering up critical files, grabbing laptops and hauling boxes to safety. Just get out! If you ve done your due diligence, you ll be able to get on with life no matter what happens. LDR Cleaning and Restoration 12

13 Did you know? Man-made disasters may include, but are not limited to: Chemical spills Nuclear power plant accidents Roof collapse Pipe burst Arson Pandemics and diseases Bomb threat Terrorism LDR Cleaning and Restoration 13

14 Tip #5: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Work with your financial and legal advisors ahead of time to determine if it s possible to offer your employees and their families: Cash advances Salary continuation Flexible work hours Reduced work hours Crisis counseling Child care Having a business emergency plan in place will help your staff, critical records and data survive a disaster but once the smoke clears, you may find yourself literally out on the street without a functional workspace. What then? This type of preparation is known as a continuity of operations plan or COOP. The first step is to consider whether you can run your business from a different location possibly even your home. Here s where it s helpful to develop relationships with other local businesses ahead of time. It may be feasible to use their facilities until your worksite is restored. During these challenging times, you must also provide payroll continuity. There may also be legal continuity issues regarding relocation, client notification, continuation of service to your clients, obtaining copies of destroyed documents, and other considerations. Consult your legal advisor to identify and plan ahead for these situations. 956 Finally, as mentioned earlier, research and establish a relationship with a local disaster cleaning and restoration specialist before disaster strikes. They will be ready when you need them, 24/7, to help you get back in business as soon as possible. LDR Cleaning and Restoration 14

15 Conclusion LDR Cleaning and Restoration 15

16 Plan ahead to stay in business. Natural and man-made disasters can be devastating to businesses, but there s no question that those who plan ahead and practice their plan regularly have a distinct advantage. To recap, when kick-starting your company emergency preparedness plan, consider these tips: People should be protected AND proactive. Engage your employees, neighboring businesses, insurance agent and cleaning/ restoration specialist in the disaster planning process. Communication is crucial and evolving. Work all channels of communication available to alert and update your workers, their families and the public at large. This is not your grandfather s shelter. Uncertain times have influenced employers to go above and beyond the norm when providing safety zones for their staff. Back it up, pack it up and safeguard. The importance of backing up electronic files, duplicating critical documents and storing them in a safe place can mean the difference between restarting your business in three weeks three months or never. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. We shouldn t live in fear, and odds are you may be fortunate to never feel the force of a natural or man-made disaster. But are you prepared to take that chance? Get started today on your company s disaster plan. And don t just plan plan ahead to stay in business. LDR Cleaning and Restoration specializes in complete fire restoration, water restoration and repairs from smoke, wind and vandalism damage to both commercial and residential properties. For more information, contact: LDR Cleaning and Restoration 24-HOUR SERVICE: LDR Cleaning and Restoration 16

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