Re-open quickly after a disaster

A business needs to be able to react immediately and confidently after a disaster, so it can quickly re-open and minimize loss. Below are plans the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends developing to ensure workplaces are ready when a flood, tornado, earthquake, fire, hurricane, or other disaster strikes.

1.    Emergency Response Plan – Planning for how a business will protect employees, visitors, property, and the environment during and after a disaster includes processes for evacuation, lockdown, sheltering, and other site-specific responses. Safety is the top priority when developing this plan, and it should also include a post-disaster process for cleaning up, evaluating damage, salvaging property, and protecting undamaged property. These property conservation efforts will help reduce business disruption and damage 


2.    Crisis Communication Plan – When a disaster happens, businesses need plans that will allow them to quickly and accurately communicate with customers, employees and their families, suppliers, regulators, government officials, the media, the community, and other stakeholders. Each of these audiences will want to know immediately if and how they will be impacted. A crisis communication plan helps businesses get the right messages to the right people in a timely and positive fashion. Often this plan will include descriptions of key audiences and their anticipated concerns, assignments for who will communicate with each audience and how, and scripted message templates 


3.    Business Continuity Plan – This important plan will help minimize business disruption, reduce financial loss, and retain customers. When developing a continuity plan, first conduct an impact analysis to pinpoint time-sensitive or essential business functions, and the resources and processes they require. From there, write processes for recovering these during an emergency. Create a business continuity group that will practice, test, and be trained to implement the plan 


4.    IT Disaster Recovery Plan – Many business activities depend on the use of information technology. An IT disaster recovery plan includes processes to rapidly restore hardware, applications, and data so the business can re-open quickly. It would also provide a plan for data backup to ensure critical files and information are kept safe 


5.    Employee Assistance Plan – Disasters can impact employees and their families. They may experience costly expenses or be forced to stay somewhere other than their homes. Support employees as much as possible as they recover from an emergency. It is helpful to develop a plan for how the business will aid affected employees, whether by providing financial assistance, connecting employees to the appropriate public agencies and services, or offering mental healthcare to help with the emotional impact of a disaster 

Developing plans can help a business re-open quickly after an emergency. Other useful preparations include training employees and stocking safety supplies and first aid kits to ensure facilities are ready if a disaster occurs.

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