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Mr. Bartender and I have been thinking about emergency procedures a lot lately. First, because we live in Florida and its hurricane season. But also, because there’s been a lot of talk about “emergency go kits” and home emergency procedures.
Every geographic region has some form of natural emergency occurrence to consider. It could be snow, rain, heat, etc. If you’re not directly impacted by those, the emergency could be a power outage because of snow, rain, heat, etc. Individuals should put together an emergency plan for their home. And if you’re working from home – even only one or two days a week – it might be good to have a plan in place for how you would secure company property in the event of an emergency.
In addition, organizations should help employees put together emergency plans – for onsite, hybrid, and remote employees.
If you have a plan in place, make sure it’s current. There are several places that I like to reference when creating and maintaining emergency plans.
Federal, state, and local government. In the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security maintains the Ready.gov site which provides emergency alerts and information to help keep you and your family safe. It also has information for organizations like a business continuity plan, technology recovery plan, and how to support employees during disasters.
Professional organizations. If you belong to your local Chamber of Commerce or an industry association, see what resources they provide. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) offers members sample policies for emergency evacuation procedures, emergency preparedness checklists, and toolkits to manage through disasters. They also have articles related to employee pay and leaves during disasters.
Not-for-profit organizations. The American Red Cross has resources on their website about creating an emergency plan. I really like that it’s provided in multiple languages. AARP offers downloadable guides to reduce risks and protect individuals. These guides can be helpful to employees and their families.
In addition to having guides and checklists, it’s essential to identify an emergency response team. And I can’t say this enough – give your emergency response team proper training. Some emergencies give you warning, like a weather forecast tracking the path of a hurricane. Other emergencies do not. The emergency response team needs to always be ready.
And that leads me to another aspect of emergency planning. While I’ve been talking about emergency plans in the context of weather, we need to recognize that some emergencies have absolutely nothing to do with the weather. It could be an accident, security breach, media incident, or a pandemic. Organizations (and individuals) need to think about each type of emergency they could be susceptible to and the best way to respond based on the risk factor and risk tolerance.
I realize that emergency planning isn’t the most exciting activity. Especially when we have plenty of other high priority projects to work on. But the time to talk about emergency planning is when an emergency isn’t going on. Regularly pull out the plan, review it, make any necessary updates, communicate it, and relax knowing that you’re ready.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of Fort Lauderdale, FL15