Five Things Your Emergency Plan Should Address
For most of us, one day does not look much different from the next. We wake up at the same time. We take the same route to work. Maybe we take a coffee break around 10 a.m., followed by lunch at noon.
At the end of the day, we take the same route home, only to do it all over the next day.
But what if something interrupts our routine? Not a traffic jam or a flat tire, mind you. Think bigger.
Fires, tornados, power outages and other emergencies can put your employees at risk and derail your business. In fact, about 40 percent of small businesses do not reopen after an emergency, according to the American Red Cross.
Texas Mutual encourages its policyholders to plan for tomorrow’s emergency today. Emergency preparedness plans vary by industry, but they should all address these five things.
Strong leadership is critical during emergencies. Form a team of voluntary first responders (VFRs) that includes employees from across the company.
Team responsibilities can include helping create the emergency preparedness plan, continuously improving the plan, conducting hazard assessments, leading evacuations, delivering first aid and CPR, and using fire extinguishers.
To succeed, your VFRs need management’s support. Give them the training and equipment necessary to do their jobs.
Texas Mutual VFRs are armed with bullhorns, emergency radios and vests identifying them as first responders. They also receive regularly scheduled training on infection control, CPR and first aid.
In 1911, a fire erupted at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. When the factory’s only escape route collapsed, workers were trapped inside. Nearly 150 of them did not make it out.
Evacuation plans sometimes get derailed during emergencies. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory accident speaks volumes about the importance of planning and clearly marking multiple evacuation routes.
Many businesses use alarms to alert employees they should evacuate. Your VFRs can facilitate the evacuation. Charge them with leading everyone, including employees with special needs, out of the building and to a predetermined location. Take a head count to ensure everyone got out safely.
During a natural disaster or an episode of workplace violence, you may not be able to evacuate. Make sure your employees know the procedures for sheltering in place.
Getting medical attention for victims
A high school basketball player collapses in the middle of the gym after a game. A school official goes in search of an emergency defibrillator, a device that delivers electric pulses in an effort to revive the heart. The official finds the defibrillator in a pile of unused athletic supplies, but the batteries are dead. The player does not survive.
Getting medical attention for victims is a priority during emergencies. Your VFRs might have to deliver first aid while you wait for the ambulance to arrive. It is crucial that first aid kits, defibrillators and fire extinguishers be clearly marked, easy to get to and in good condition.
Seems simple enough, right? You pick up the phone and dial 9-1-1. During an emergency, however, we tend to panic. When we panic, we might have trouble doing everyday tasks.
If you stay calm when you call 9-1-1, your chances of getting prompt support increase.
Be ready to tell the operator the address where the emergency happened, provide directions if necessary and describe the emergency. Let the operator guide the conversation, and stay on the line until he or she tells you it is okay to hang up.
Getting back to business
Your employees’ safety should be your priority during an emergency. Afterward, work toward recovering and returning to business as soon as possible. Here are some action items to consider:
- Form a business continuity team with representatives from across the company.
- Decide which functions must continue during the emergency and its aftermath.
- Identify employees who perform those functions, and make sure they know their responsibilities. Think about how they will do their work and where they will do it if you cannot immediately move back into the facility.
- Back up computer systems and data necessary to perform critical functions. Some companies choose to store critical data offsite.
- Develop manual workarounds for automated processes.
- Create a plan for communicating with critical vendors.
- Conduct emergency readiness drills.
Get more information
The federal government launched an emergency preparedness website at ready.gov. The site includes information on preparing your home and your business for an emergency.
Policyholders can also visit the safety resource center at texasmutual.com for an online video titled, “Disaster Readiness.” The video is available in English and Spanish.
About 40 percent of small businesses do not reopen after an emergency.