Business Preparedness: why and how you should prepare; and personal preparedness: how to pack your Go Bag and sheltering in place.
Up to 50% of businesses never reopen after being affected by a natural or human-made disaster. Despite this statistic, 62% of businesses don’t have an emergency plan in place! Your customers expect delivery of their products or services on time, regardless of your situation. And larger businesses want to insure that their supply chain is not interrupted by a disaster either. Insurance is only a partial solution. It does not cover all losses and it will NOT replace customers. News travels fast and perceptions often differ from reality. It is up to you to plan now for a disaster to avoid some of these pitfalls. Many risks cannot be insured, but some risks can be reduced by investing in loss prevention programs, protection systems, and equipment.
According to FEMA’s Business Program Management,” A preparedness policy that is consistent with the mission and vision of the business should be written and disseminated by management. The policy should define roles and responsibilities. It should authorize selected employees to develop the program and keep it current. The policy should also define the goals and objectives of the program. Typical goals of the preparedness program include:
- Protect the safety of employees, visitors, contractors and others at risk from hazards at the facility. Plan for persons with disabilities and functional needs.
- Maintain customer service by minimizing interruptions or disruptions of business operations
- Protect facilities, physical assets and electronic information
- Prevent environmental contamination
- Protect the organization’s brand, image and reputation”
A word on environmental contamination—many times, smaller businesses without a plan in place will attempt to handle the work on their building on their own. Depending on the damage and the building in question, it may be safer and more cost effective to hire a professional company to help you. Why? Well, for starters, a cleanup company like SERVPRO of Lexington has the knowledge of environmental laws and regulations that you may be ignorant of. Our crew can dispose of potentially hazardous materials in a safe and compliant manner.
In order to prepare personally for a disaster, you should start by creating a Family Disaster Plan. To get started, contact your local emergency management office and your local chapter of the American Red Cross. Find out which disasters are likely to occur in your area by using the interactive map. Meet with your family and plan how you will stay in contact if separated by disaster. Because many disasters occur with little or no warning, you need to have a plan for what to do before you have instructions from authorities. Assess your situation. Decide to stay or change locations. If you are not in immediate danger, you should stay where you are and get more information before taking your next steps.
There are 3 types of sheltering, and different types are appropriate for different disasters. You can shelter in place, shelter for an extended stay, or enter a community shelter. When you shelter in place, you are sealing a room as a way to protect yourself from contaminants in the air for a short period of time. You should identify an internal room in your home or work, and store specific items such as snacks and water, a battery-operated radio, a flashlight, and pre-cut plastic sheeting and duct tape to seal off vents and doors and windows. If you are sheltering for an extended stay, you may need to store enough supplies for 2 weeks. If you are using a community shelter, you should bring your 3-day disaster supply kit with you.
So what goes in your kit? Depending on the length of time you will be gone, the time of year of the event, and how many people and pets you have with you, your kit might change. The items recommended for your basic kit are:
- 3 day supply of non-perishable food
- 3 day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
- Portable, battery powered radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual.
- Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper)
- Matches and waterproof container
- Extra clothing (think warmth if in a cold climate)
- Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener.
- Photocopies of credit and identification cards
- Cash and coins
- Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eyeglasses, and hearing aid batteries.
- Items for infants and items for pets.
Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe when you are ready to use them.
- Keep canned foods in a cool dry place.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
- Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented, or corroded.
- Change stored food and water supplies every 6 months. Write the date on the containers.
- Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers.
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family needs change.
We recommend keeping a Go Bag in your car, and one in your house, as you will never know where you will be when a disaster hits. If you need help preparing your home or business for disasters, call us at 803-755-9774. We can help you create a plan for your building and tag your shut offs when necessary. And if something does go wrong, call us to help make it "Like it never even happened."