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"Prepare. Respond. Recover. It's time to get Ready LA" - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa
We spend a good portion of our lives at our workplace. Itís our ďhome away from home,Ē a setting with familiar people, regular routines and hectic hours. Itís not often that we stop to think what we would do if that normal pattern were abruptly interrupted by an emergency situation. But itís the responsibility of business owners, management team members and even mid to lower level personnel to plan for such an event. Knowing what to do when a disaster strikes could save your staff and your business.

Businesses

An emergency plan should be part of your business plan
What exactly is the bottom line for any successful business? Well, besides profitability, it should be the safety of those who work there. And that means being prepared for the unexpected. You should create an emergency contingency plan and distribute information about that plan to every employee. Before putting the plan on paper, here are some things that every forward-thinking business should do.

  • Perform a risk assessment of your operation.
  • Know what kinds of emergencies might affect your company.
  • Identify the various operations critical to your company’s survival.
  • Establish procedures for management succession.
  • Identify suppliers, shippers and other resources that you interact with on a regular basis.
  • Make copies of important documents and files, and store those copies off-site.
  • Create a contact list of critical business contractors and others that could be vital in an emergency situation.
  • Determine where you can operate if your building becomes inaccessible.
  • Plan for payroll continuity.

Communications is the key
You’ve heard the old question, “Did you get the memo?” In situations as serious as this, keeping everyone informed is essential. Don’t rely on a simple memo or e-mail; talk personally with your staff and make sure that everyone knows what to do if a disaster of some type should strike. Consider some of these ideas for keeping everyone up to date.

  • Ask for input from others in the office when creating the emergency plan.
  • Clearly define crisis management procedures and individual responsibilities.
  • Meet with other businesses in your building or office/industrial complex to share ideas and plan contingencies together.
  • Keep your personnel aware of emergency preparedness through periodic newsletters, company intranet, employee e-mails and other internal communications.
  • Talk personally with workers who have disabilities so you can establish alternate plans, if necessary, for them.
  • Review your emergency plans on an annual or semi-annual basis.

Taking stock

Your stock room may be filled with computer paper, CD disks, staples, folders and a lot more, but save some space for emergency supplies. Every business, large and small, should have items stashed away for that proverbial “rainy day” or that earthquake, that power blackout, flood, terror attack or whatever surprise may come your way. Here are a few things you might want to have available.

  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Site maps and building plans with escape routes
  • Can opener
  • Moist towelettes
  • Wrench or pliers
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape, in case the room needs to be sealed
  • First Aid Kit

When disaster strikes

Suddenly, the last thing on your mind is that approaching project deadline. You’ve just been hit by a major disaster and your world is coming apart all around you! It’s time to quickly review your options.

  • Stay calm and remember your preparation and planning.
  • If the crisis calls for immediate evacuation, go immediately to your quickest escape route.
  • Provide assistance to co-workers who may have been injured and need help.
  • Communicate clearly with those around you; don’t panic.
  • If caught in an earthquake, move quickly under your desk and away from any windows.
  • If it is a fire emergency and heavy smoke is present, stay low to the ground when leaving the area and cover your face with a towel or clothing of some kind.
  • In most cases, stay away from elevators and instead use the emergency exits and stairwells for escape.
  • Listen for instructions from someone in authority, as too many decision-makers can cause confusion.

Useful links

BICEPP (businesses)


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