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Business Emergency Plan: 4 Steps for Disaster Preparedness

Disaster preparedness and recovery are no longer optional for businesses today. Instead, they have become essential. Such events can affect businesses in various ways, including damage to storefronts, loss of customers, supply chain disruptions, etc. As a result, disasters affect a company’s infrastructure, profitability, and sustainability. 

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, 40 percent of small and medium-sized businesses never open after a natural disaster strikes. An additional 25 percent open but fail within a year. 

Business owners – large and small – don’t want their businesses to be affected by disasters outside of their control. Unfortunately, they cannot control such events from transpiring. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t prepare themselves for resume operations quickly following a disaster. And that’s where a business emergency plan becomes crucial.  

Developing a Business Emergency Preparedness Plan

Developing a business emergency preparedness plan is an extremely challenging task. Numerous disasters and emergencies could impact your business, including earthquakes, floods, active shooter instances, etc. The reality is that it’s nearly impossible to predict such events and plan contingencies for them. 

In addition, every business is unique. An emergency preparedness plan for a retail outlet will significantly differ from a managed IT services provider’s emergency preparedness plan. The former, for instance, will have to consider unique aspects in their emergency plan that the latter might not need to consider. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t prepare an emergency preparedness plan for your business to follow if disaster strikes. It might be a daunting task. However, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have guidelines to help business owners prepare a standard emergency plan for all hazardous events. 

A Step-By-Step Guide to Creating an Emergency Preparedness Plan

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating an emergency preparedness plan:

Develop and Outline Your Business’s Emergency Plan

You’ll want to outline your business’s objectives and guidelines before creating an emergency preparedness plan. Naturally, your goal will be to mitigate the impact of a disaster on your business. However, you’ll need to consider specific requirements unique to your business. 

For instance, some aspects of your emergency preparedness plan will be affected by local laws. The U.S Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has outlined necessary emergency response guidelines for businesses with over ten employees. OSHA has several online tools to help you follow these standardized guidelines, including evacuation plan requirements, fire safety regulations, etc.  

Some industries also have regulatory agencies that have industry-specific requirements for businesses to follow. 

You’ll also want to contact local public service authorities, like your city’s fire department and police station. These organizations might have specific requirements you must follow during emergency scenarios. These authorities will help you understand the regulations for crafting your emergency plan. In addition, they could give you helpful advice.  

Conduct a Risk Assessment 

Once you have a better idea of local, federal, and business-specific requirements, you’ll want to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential threats to your business. Consider starting by thinking about the most common disaster scenarios that could affect your business. These could include floods, fires, earthquakes, etc. 

You’ll also want to consider other less apparent threats, like active shooters, cybersecurity issues, global pandemics, etc.

You’ll also want to consider business-specific risks. For instance, you’ll want to worry about biohazard waste running a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant. 

Perform a Business Impact Analysis

You can use the information obtained from the risk assessment for your business impact analysis. Doing a business impact analysis will help you identify how emergencies or disasters will impact your business. You can use this information to determine which disasters will affect your business. You’ll also be able to determine the extent of these disasters on your business.

Here are some common business impacts that you’ll want to assess in your business impact analysis:

  • Lost Income: The most immediate consequence of a disaster affecting your business is income loss. A disaster might cause supply chain issues or force you to close your office, meaning your business won’t operate as usual. 
  • Regulatory Fines: Your business might face heavy penalties and regulatory fines if it doesn’t comply with regulations set by industry or government regulatory authorities. Hence, it’s recommended that you consider compliance issues when creating a business emergency response plan.
  • Increased Expenses: A disaster will naturally cause business expenses to increase. You might need to replace damaged inventory or equipment. 
  • New Business Plans Delayed: A disaster or an emergency will also affect business plans. For instance, you might have been considering expansion. However, the ramifications of a disaster might cause you to postpone these plans until your business recovers.
  • Customer Loss: Sometimes, disasters and emergencies cause organizations to lose customers. Customers might want products or services immediately, and if you can’t provide them with what they want, they will seek alternatives elsewhere. 

Prepare a Business Emergency Plan

Once you’ve completed the steps above, you’re ready to prepare a business emergency plan. You’ll want to collaborate with company leaders, your HR department, and senior employees when drafting a business emergency plan. Ensure that you also utilize governmental resources. Doing so will ensure your plan has minimal compliance issues.  

Some things to include in your business emergency plan are:

  • Resource Management: Resource management should detail how you’ll allocate and utilize resources during an emergency.
  • Emergency Response: This part should address how you’ll protect your employees, equipment, and operational processes if an emergency occurs. It should also detail evacuation procedures, lockdown policies, etc. 
  • Crisis Communications: This part of a business preparedness plan should detail procedures for establishing communications between leadership, staff, customers, etc.
  • Business Continuity: This part of your business plan should detail business recovery strategies. For instance, your business might need emergency financing to recover from a disaster. As a result, you should include financial recovery options like SBA disaster loans. 

Prepare Your Business for Quick Recovery with Counterspherics

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly safety technology or service to help you personally or your business, check out Counterspherics.com. 

They provide a Crisis & Incident Management & Support System (CIMSS) service to help you prepare, act, and recover from emergencies, natural or otherwise.

  

You can check out their video animated case study about the 2011 Japan triple disaster; and how a California university used its system to provide real-time alerts and instructions to their students and families in Japan on where to go, what to do, and how to get out of the country after the earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear disaster ravaged the countryside. Counterspherics Labs is constantly working on safety and threat management systems to help people and businesses in crises. 

You can reach out to them today for more info.