Disaster can strike quickly, without warning. Your health department, other local officials, and relief workers have plans in place for a variety of possible emergencies. Do you? Valuable information can also be found on the following websites: Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) or Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Tornados and Severe Storms
Preparedness Planning for Your Business
DID YOU KNOW?
- Up to 40% of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen
- Customers expect delivery of products or services in time. If there is a significant delay they may turn to a competitor
- Insurance is only a partial solution. It does not cover all losses and it will not replace customers
- News travels fast and perceptions often differ from reality. Businesses need to reach out to customers and other stakeholders quickly
The planning process should take an "all hazards" approach. There are many different threats and hazards. The probability that a specific hazard will impact your business is hard to determine. That is why it is important consider many different threats and hazards and the likelihood they will occur. In developing an all hazards preparedness plan, potential hazards should be identified, vulnerabilities assessed and potential impacts analyzed
A preparedness policy that is consistent with the mission and vision of the business should be written and disseminated by management. As a business owner or manager, your emergency planning team should include all areas of your business, not just facility managers or public safety personnel. You should also include human resources, finance, administration, and executive level personnel. The risk assessment identifies threats or hazards and opportunities for hazard prevention and risk mitigation.
There are seven critical elements of a business emergency plan.
- Direction & Control: Who is in charge of making critical decisions? Managing resources? Analyzing information? Ensure that the chain of command during an emergency is clear to all of your employees.
- Communications: How will you contact your employees? Your customers? Neighboring businesses? Local officials? Make sure you have an up-to-date communications plan.
- Life Safety: Teach your employees about evacuation and sheltering-in-place. Identify external assembly areas if you are evacuated. Establish a system to account for your employees. Plan for employees with special needs or disabilities.
- Property Protection: Install protection systems. Make sure you have plans for shutting down or moving critical equipment. Identify critical records or data and back them up at another location.
- Public Information/Media Relations: After a large emergency affecting your business, media representatives will want to speak with you. Prepare background information about your company. Designate and train a spokesperson who can speak comfortably with the media and provide critical information for your clients and customers.
- Recovery & Restoration - Business Continuity Planning: A thorough business continuity plan may help you maintain your business operations throughout an emergency or ensure a quick recovery after an emergency has occurred. A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) should address the following.
- Essential Functions: Identify and prioritize functions and identify the number of personnel and the equipment needed to perform these functions.
- Delegation of Authority: Identify personnel who are able to make critical decisions and identify the circumstances under which their authority would be used.
- Order of Succession: Develop orders of succession of sufficient depth and geographical dispersal for key positions within your department and develop procedures for the conditions under which succession will take place.
- Alternate Facilities: Identify alternate facilities where priority functions could be performed (home or alternate office space) and describe any limitations for full operations (space, equipment, infrastructure).
- Communications: Describe methods of communications needed for operations and tools that are available at alternate facilities.
- Vital Records & Databases: Identify critical operations documents, financial records, and timekeeping items and describe where how and where they are duplicated.
- Administration & Logistics: Identify required record-keeping methods and designate resource acquisition and tracking personnel.
After developing these plans, you should conduct testing and exercises to evaluate the effectiveness of your preparedness program. There are many benefits to tests and exercises:
- Improves individual performance as well as organizational coordination and communications
- Reinforces knowledge of procedures, facilities, systems and equipment
- Trains personnel and clarifies roles/responsibilities
- Reveal weaknesses and resource gaps
- Gain recognition among clients and other businesses
Following exercises/tests and actual incidents there are often opportunities for improvement. A critique should be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the preparedness program. Gaps and deficiencies identified during reviews should be recorded and addressed through a corrective action plan. All gaps or deficiencies are not equally important and should be prioritized accordingly. This is helpful as time and resources are often limited.
If you would like assistance in where you can start developing a Preparedness Program within your agency please feel free to contact our staff at 309-679-6020.
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