16 best practices for conquering the next natural disaster

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Raise your hand if your east-coast business was prepared for yesterday’s earthquake

After the jump, I’ll tell you why you may not have been ready and offer your business 16 ways to prepare for when the next disaster strikes.

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“Inertia towards normalcy”

Last week, my law firm hosted a meeting about preparing businesses in the event of an emergency, such as a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. One of the event organizers offered up a theory as to why most businesses are not already prepared. It’s called “intertia towards normalcy.” And it goes something like this…

When disaster strikes, we pay attention. We react. We become more vigilant. For a while, that is. Then, as time passes, the wave of awareness and emotion associated with the crisis event slowly subsides. Our pulses slow down as we begin to reacclimate to our usual everyday lives. Consequently, we let up our guard because, innately, we feel more comfortable when life returns to normal. And, once life returns to normal, we convince ourselves that the trigger event that shook up our lives was an anomaly and won’t happen again. Well, as least it won’t happen to my business.

But, you know what they say about those who do not learn from history…

16 best practices for disaster preparation and response.

Most east-coasters experienced a mild scare today. Fortunately, the overall damage was minimal. Some companies — including our law firm — evacuated offices until building owners gave the all clear. And then it was back to business as usual.

But what if today’s 5.9 had been a 6.9 or a 7.9? Would your business have been prepared? Could you have resumed business in a day? A week? A month?

Would your business survive, at all?

Now that your guard is up, before the inertia of normalcy sets in, I offer these 16 tips (8 pre-disaster and 8 post-disaster) to help you prepare in the event of a large-scale disaster. 

8 tips to prepare for a disaster:

  1. Develop an Emergency Response Plan.
  2. Review and Update Policies and Procedures.
  3. Educate and Prepare Your Employees.
  4. Determine Essential and Non-Essential Business Functions.
  5. Assess Communications and Electronic Infrastructure.
  6. Update Contact Information for All Employees.
  7. Check with Governmental Agencies.
  8. Be Reasonable.

8 tips for addressing a crisis:

  1. Assess the Workplace and Likely Consequences.
  2. Communicate with Employees and Customers.
  3. Reemphasize Health and Safety.
  4. Assess Employee Contact / Customer Contact.
  5. Evaluate Potential Changes to Business Activities
  6. Put Insurance Carrier(s) on Notice as Claims Arise
  7. Reassess Lines of Communication and Internal Electronic Infrastructure
  8. Implement Further Restrictions Consistent with Guidance from Governmental Agencies.

These tips come from a webinar that I gave for the Safe America Foundation last year. To put more meat on the bones, you can find the webinar audio here, the slide show here, or just drop me a line and we can chat about it.

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