Disaster-1The disasters that have played out far and near over the past few months should be a big wake up call to businesses and individuals alike – YOU NEED TO BE PREPARED. Every individual should have an emergency kit for their home and car, and every business should have an Emergency Action Plan. In California, every employer with 10 or more employees is also required by the state to have an effective Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).

Here are some tips to get started on your Emergency Action Plan.

Identify potential problems. What are the potential natural disasters in your area? In California we most often think about earthquakes, but as we’ve seen recently, some areas are also at risk for floods or wildfires. Also consider other situations that might occur, either man-made or accidental – chemical spill, fire, violent acts.

Create and practice an emergency response plan. Map out what employees and leaders should do in the event of a specific emergency. Be sure that everyone is familiar with the plan – use posters, team meetings, all-hands meetings to communicate the plan – and practice it. Have a periodic fire drill, earthquake drill, safety drill.  Be sure everyone knows where the exits are, and where to hide if necessary. How will you communicate if power is lost? OSHA has some additional tips for this plan.

Create a crisis communications plan. Assign someone to be the spokesperson with first responders and the media. Determine how you will contact employees, their families, your customers.

Create a business continuity plan. Ensure that all financial documents and other key business data are backed up and safely and securely stored offsite or in the cloud. Plan how you will continue to operate during or post-disaster. Also consider how you will respond if one of your key suppliers is struck by disaster. Prepare for all contingencies.

Put together a disaster survival kit. When a disaster strikes, your business could be without electricity, water, Internet and other services for days. Keep emergency supplies on hand, and advise employees to have their own emergency kits. FEMA and the American Red Cross offer checklists as to what should be included.

Being prepared will help save your business and save lives.