Disaster Mitigation or Disaster Preparedness
Dangers and Disasters
Have you considered getting prepared for a disaster? It can be done in small steps that can add up to really helping you in a disaster of some sort. Many people see it as an overwhelming process. It really isn’t.
What are the dangers you face? Think through these for yourself, your family and your business.
- Fire – Flood – Water damage
- Tornado and if you live near a coast, Hurricanes
- Power Outages
Lumping fire, flood and water damage together is often worthwhile due to the similarity of damage they cause. Cleaning up is a similar process and the time before you’re “back in business” is almost predictable.
Power Outages rarely last more than a few days. The amount of damage it can do ranges from some mild to serious inconvenience, food spoiling and the inability to contact people from that location.
Theft can be a real serious disaster. Include identity theft here and it can take a log time and be very expensive to recover from it. It can be very hard or impossible to replace some of your stuff.
Terrorism doesn’t have to happen right where you are. Cyber terrorism has been on the rise since the Internet became so popular. Disruptions of major services might be more than an inconvenience. What if you can’t do your banking on line? What if you can’t order products or sell your products. Gosh, what if you couldn’t check Facebook! Long term outages can affect availability of food and other necessities.
Are you in an earthquake prone area? Much of the same planning applies
Planning for Disasters
Here is a simple process. Complete the following topics and test them. Update the topics, add to them for your own situation and test it again. Update again. Test again. Get others involved. Your family, your employees, anyone that affects your situation. Understand that this works only because you have tested it before the disaster. All it takes is sitting on your porch step or wherever and test for different kinds of disasters. Your response is similar for all disasters. Tune for each circumstance and when something actually happens, you will have a place to start that is already understood by you and those around you.
Plan alternate gathering and messaging locations. If you can’t get to your home or office and others couldn’t either, establish an alternate location for meeting and leaving messages. Disasters might well include a complete interruption of communications. It might include limited transportation options. Think of ways to leave messages for others about where you are. Do you remember the impromptu bulletin boards in New York City right after 9-11? Find a place where your friends, family and employees know that they might find a message from you and leave a message for you.
Gather some information:
- Insurance policies
- Birth certificates – for personal purposes
- Passports – for personal purposes
- Licenses, certificates, logins and passwords for anything that might need to be gotten to quickly on line
- Anything else that you can think of that would be hard to come up with without access.
Create a list of your family, friends, work associates, employees, vendors, anyone that might need to be contacted during and immediately after a disaster:
Name, cell, home, office phones, address, emergency contact. Do this on paper as well as a document you keep. What if your cell phone doesn’t work. Can you remember the actual phone number of these contacts? I sure couldn’t. In a retail business, be sure you have contact data on your suppliers. Be mindful of your supply line and how it might be impacted. Do you need to put off a delivery, make the delivery go to another location, cancel the delivery entirely? Think about when you will be back in operation and what the impact would be to your supply line. At the same time, do you need to notify clients of your adjusted delivery dates. Keep both your suppliers and clients informed. You need to have ways to contact both.
Have a talk with your insurance agent. For businesses, you might find that business continuity plan would be worth looking into. You might find that you are not insured for a terrorist attack because it is classified as an act of war or something. Discuss these scenarios with your insurance agent to see what they can do to help and what they do and do not cover. If you rent, have that conversation with your landlord. What is his responsibility to get you back in operation quickly. Would he simply tell you to find another place to live or do your business. Know this before a disaster.
Have a conversation with your family, friends, employees and anyone that affects your response. If you have employees, know what to expect from them. Many might have to leave work and take care of their family when you need them. There might be ways to help them. There might be ways to help your neighbors and the community. Helping others is a great way to help reduce your stress and the stress of others. Be very mindful of the stress this will place on you and on others around you. Volunteering your time is a great way to you cope with the stress.
For all disasters, it is a good idea to have a “go bag”. What you put into your go bag is up to you. A good way to find out what others have or recommend is to do a search on “go bags” and see what they include. What they often don’t include are things you created a list of above. Contact information is a great addition. Be sure yours includes specific weather gear and medical supplies for you and your immediate family. Does someone need a special drug? Be sure they have it. Everything else such as flashlights, candles, emergency food, water and the other things can be added easily.
Practice the plan
So, now you have a plan. You’re way on your way. To make it really work, you have to practice. Pretend there was a fire in your home or office. What do you do? Where is your list? It should be on your computer, a paper list in your car and in your spouse’s car. Maybe you need information on a clean up company to get the recovery process started. That is not on your list, so research who you would use and get them on your list. Remember to do the simple disasters, too. They are important and that is where you will find that a power outage broke your computer. Do you have a backup offsite? Solve that little problem. Put the login and password to the recovery site on the list. Does your company have backups offsite? Do you have a plan for replacing your computers and other devices? Do you already know if your insurance will pay for it or not?
Good, you found some problems with your plan. That is why you’re practicing. Do it again and see how far you get before you have to modify the plan again. Fix what you see and practice again.
Now, share the plan with the appropriate people and see how quick they can find problems. If this is your company, get the employees involved. They will have suggestions and ideas you have not thought about. Incorporate any necessary adjustments. Work through this with your family. Be sure they know what to expect, how to contact everyone and where to meet up.