Thinking About The Unthinkable

Written by Daniel Aday, CompOne Administrators Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist
As inconvenient as it might seem, being prepared for an unlikely event could mean the difference between being able to reopen your business and having to close your doors for good. Although the likelihood of something tragic happening to your business is relatively low, the impact that a disaster could have greatly outweighs the complacency of not having a plan in place. Taking the needed time to plan with affected departments and test understanding at all levels is an absolute must in ensuring that getting back to the “normal” is as easy as possible. An Emergency Preparedness Plan should include all potential emergencies and be easy to read and understand. Ensure to have the following in your plan:
Include All Potential Emergencies
The best emergency plan is one that contains all potential emergencies. Yes, even that one you just thought about. Given “today’s” emergencies in the world, it is hard to forecast what tomorrow might bring, whether it is an “active attacker” situation, a broken dam that creates mass flooding in your area, a virus that causes a world-wide pandemic, or a fire started by an employee taking a smoke break. There would be nothing worse than spending resources and valuable time on an emergency plan and including only some of potential situations, only to have a disaster happen that was not included on your plan. This requires you to think outside of the box and to not just copy-and-paste a generic emergency plan that you found online. Almost every company is going to have a different plan based on a few items: where their building(s) is/are located, what their daily operations are, what material is stored on site, how many employees they have, and what history can tell us about companies that are similar. A case in point is that a building placed right next to a railroad track should include a plan in place to what is to happen if the train derails and wipes out half of the building, while another business located in a wooded, low-populated area, should consider including something along the lines of appropriate responses to animal attacks. This is absolutely the time to think about these situations and plan for them so these events will not catch you off-guard.
Do Not “Set and Forget”
An emergency plan is not something that once created, you can laminate, put into a nice binder, and set on your shelf for dust to collect and only to be looked at in case of an emergency. At an absolute minimum, it should be looked at on an annual basis,  reviewed and checked for accuracy and applicability. Given this topic 6 months ago, there would be very little to no mention of a virus, but going forth, almost all new emergency plans written will have some inclusion of an unplanned virus or disease. This only shows the importance of regularly updating (and recording revisions to) a plan. Routinely search for the most accurate emergency response information with your given disasters and update as needed.
Train and Test
What is worse than not having a plan? Having a plan that you spend valuable time and effort on, then telling no one and not providing training on the topics. At the very minimum, each and every employee should go through an overview of your emergency response during the on-boarding process or during new-hire orientation. Also, make it available to all guests, residents, visitors, potential customers, clients and vendors, if asked. Additionally, annual drills should be made to test the knowledge and preparedness for more common emergencies such as tornado, fire, lockdown situations and similar. Develop training matrixes and ensure that all levels of employment know what to do in the event of an emergency. You should feel confident that your employees will know what response is needed in an emergency.

Taking these steps today and the time you invest in being prepared now, are proven to be time well spent in the aftermath of an emergency. If you need help in creating your plan, please feel free to contact us at: or 734-309-3456. 
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