January 27, 2022

Be Prepared When Disaster Strikes

Disaster – wildfires, serious illness (COVID anyone?), and the ever-present specter of “the big-one!” – can be a game changer for any business. Even small events such as a burst pipe or loss of technical services can wreak havoc on businesses of all sizes. Adopting a workable standard approach to disaster planning can go a long way toward lowering your businesses risk of experience catastrophic failure should disaster strike.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have joined together to provide a “Business Ready” resource to assist businesses in adopting a workable standard for disaster management. The “all hazards approach” is the DHS/FEMA recommended preparedness program. The Business Ready program recommends a five-step process to assist businesses in creating an overarching disaster management program: Program Management, Planning, Implementation, Testing and Exercises and Program Improvement. A few tips for getting started:

  • Identify Your Risk: Assess the level of localized risk for your operations. Looking at the impacts of previous disasters (e.g., earthquake, wildfires, flood) that have occurred in your area will help drive this assessment and give you insight into what might lie ahead. After identifying localized risks think about how your operations might be impacted before, during or after disaster strikes.
  • Develop a Plan: Developing a business continuity or mitigation plan will help in automating key steps and communicate pertinent information to those who will need to act quickly under stressful conditions.
  • Take Action: Assessment and planning are all necessary steps in getting your operations ready to weather any storm – literally! However, taking the time to put your well thought out plans into action is a key component when it comes to disaster mitigation efforts. Test out your plan to make sure your steps flow together on paper and in practice. Run a test scenario then debrief to answer some basic questions; Are there any holes in the process? Can things be streamlined to assure follow through under pressure? What can and should be improved?

According to FEMA a significant percentage of businesses impacted by a disaster will never reopen their doors. Having a workable disaster plan in place – before disaster strikes – will help mitigate risk and tilt the odds in your organization’s favor.