Prepare Your Office for Emergencies

By Bob Risk Sep 4, 2014

What if you knew that a 30-minute time investment could make an incredible impact on your business, your life and your employee’s lives? A recent Staples survey found that only half of employees feel their company is prepared for a severe emergency. Further, data shows that between 40 percent and 60 percent of businesses that have to close because of a natural or man-made disaster never reopen and 90 percent fail if they don’t resume operation within five days of closing. Whether it be a natural disaster, storm or unexpected emergency, these top-of-mind tips will help you prepare your business for the unexpected.

Create an emergency kit. Use a lightweight duffle bag or a backpack to store key emergency essentials you can grab within minutes. Your safety kit should include:

  • Water
  • First aid kit
  • Lighting, such as a lantern, glow sticks, flash lights, crank lights
  • Spare clothing in a bag
  • Nonperishable food
  • Crank-powered cell phone charger
  • Crank-powered weather radio
  • A file with a list of emergency numbers, recovery numbers, service master, bank account numbers, check book numbers, insurance policy numbers and any other important information
  • Any prescriptions you need

Create an emergency contact list and establish a communication protocol before the emergency, during the emergency and after the emergency.

According to the Staples survey of more than 400 employees, 38 percent reported that their employer does not communicate safety plans regularly.

Make sure all employees are aware in a timely manner of what to expect in a natural disaster or storm and test and discuss back-up plans.

Protect both physical and technological property. Be sure to have the proper equipment to ready your office for a storm and to ensure all crucial data is backed up.

Create an emergency social media account. Before an emergency strikes, make sure your social media accounts are following important local officials and organizations. If you don’t have access to television or radio, your social media accounts will be the best way to stay informed, helping you make educated decisions.

Utilize already-existing tools and resources to prepare your business and your employees in advance. You can access resources from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Small Business Administration, the National Safety Council, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and even the Internal Revenue Service. Their websites, online tools, downloads and representatives run you through various scenarios for protecting and recovering your personnel and financial records, equipment, inventory, etc.

At the very least, do your research and get all the contact information you need for the organizations that can help you, like your insurance agent, your attorney, the American Red Cross and your Internet provider. Then put that in a safe place—in your phone and a hard copy somewhere safe. That’s just one less thing to do when something bad happens.

Bob Risk is the senior strategic safety, health & wellness manager for Staples. His experience includes working in emergency response efforts and environmental clean-up for some of the world’s largest corporations. In addition, he has developed global pandemic preparedness programs for a dozen companies.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy


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