The Definitive Guide to Disaster Planning

This emergency preparedness guide is for business owners of large or small operations to create and implement a business continuity plan. A business continuity plan should establish a comprehensive disaster plan that ensures that the business can survive a variety of interruptions, recover from a weather event, reduce liability concerns, protect revenue sources, build a culture of preparedness, and more. The guide presents a 12-step process that business owners should undertake if they want their business to survive a disaster, including extreme weather events induced by climate change.

The steps laid out by the guide, which expands on each, are as follows:

  1. Assemble a Disaster Team: employees should not only be included in the disaster response planning process, but should assist in implementing the plan should a disaster occur. The size of the team will depend on the size of the business - in some cases, the owner/operator of the business may be enough. 
  2. Understand Your Risks: this involves identifying areas of a potential threat, prioritizing which risks are most important, and mitigating those risks appropriately.
  3. Determine and Prioritize Your Essential Business Functions: critical business functions are those that are essential to the survival of a business. The more critical the function, the higher priority it should be designated.
  4. Create an Emergency Management Plan: with each critical business function identified, specific plans should be developed that, when implemented, mitigate the risks to the functions, or at least establish continuity procedures, should that function be interrupted.
  5. Create a communications plan: this involves informing your employees and customers regarding how they will be impacted should a disaster occur.
  6. Create an evacuation plan: determine what kind of disasters or events warrant evacuation versus sheltering-in-place.
  7. Create or Restock Your Emergency Kit: an emergency kit should include first aid and emergency supplies, as well as things deemed necessary to protect the continuity of the functions that were designated as critical.
  8. Back-Up Your Data: essential systems that allow a business to run should resume as quickly as possible, should a disaster occur. This often requires that data necessary to running those operations should be backed up, either on a cloud or through a third-party.
  9. Prepare Your Employees: employees need to be aware of any evacuation plan, as well as their duties during an emergency event, should they be assigned any.
  10. Plan for a Power Outage: this often involves purchasing or maintaining a mobile generator. It also includes, however, putting mechanisms in place that mitigate the risk to a business operation, should a power outage occur - such as backing up data, installing a landline, etc.
  11. Find an Alternative Place to Work: depending on what they are, business operations can sometimes continue even in instances when the original facility is temporarily unusable. As such, business owners would do well to have an alternative working environment established beforehand to avoid confusion or an interruption in operations.
  12. Test Your Plan.  


Publication Date: 2019

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