Business Continuity Awareness Week 2019…is your organization investing in resiliency?
Disasters can strike anywhere, anytime, but did you know the United States ranks second among countries with the most natural disasters? According to Statista, in 2016 alone the U.S. was struck by 971 tornadoes, causing $350 million in damages and negatively impacting millions of people. And from 1900 to 2016, 106 tropical cyclones, 40 earthquakes, and two tsunamis hit the U.S. Statistics like these are a reminder of how important it is to be prepared for all kinds of disasters—from floods, hurricanes, and fires to human threats like active shooters or cyberattacks. Business Continuity week, observed May 13 through May 17th, is the perfect opportunity to get prepared. This year’s theme is Investing in Resilience. Let’s look at some of the actions you can take to build a culture of preparedness.
Prepare Your Organization
Just as organizations regularly test generators to ensure proper operation, they must also regularly review their crisis and contingency plans and supplies. Take these steps to protect your business from disaster:
- Identify a business continuity champion to lead your organization’s efforts.
- Review your emergency response plan, update it, and exercise it at least once per year.
- Review your emergency action plan and disaster recovery plan annually, and update as necessary.
- Facilitate an annual threat assessment to determine your risks
- Train staff on safety issues to be better prepared during a disaster
Review and update your crisis communications plan on a regular basis.
- Meet monthly with your emergency management committee/senior executives to discuss disaster preparedness.
- Review your vendor and supplier contact list and update if necessary.
- Communicate and train staff on crisis management roles and responsibilities.
- When responding to an incident, implement the Incident Command System (ICS) used by federal, state, and local municipalities.
- Ensure all company vehicles have full gas tanks at the end of the day.
- Test your equipment regularly by inspecting batteries, generators, fuel, water, pumps, etc.
- Develop relationships with your state and local emergency management agencies and staff.
Prepare Your Staff
Conducting drills and preparedness activities can help your staff understand what types of disasters could happen, learn what to do to be safe, and take action to increase their own preparedness at work. Encourage your staff to take these steps to be better prepared:
- Create an emergency communications plan for your department.
- Sign up for local emergency text message alerts and warnings.
- Download mobile emergency preparedness apps from FEMA and the American Red Cross.
- Build an emergency supply kit to keep at work (see below).
- Practice going to a protective location or safe room in the event of an emergency.
- Practice specifically for potential disaster scenarios that are relevant to your geographic area, such as earthquakes, tornadoes, or hurricanes.
Build a Disaster Supply Kit
What supplies should you include in a disaster supply kit? On www.ready.gov, you’ll find a recommended list that includes:
- Water—one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation
- Food—at least a three-day, nonperishable supply
- A battery-powered or hand-crank radio, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio with tone alert, and extra batteries for both
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- A first aid kit
- A whistle to signal for help
- A dust mask to help filter contaminated air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- A manual (nonelectric) can opener for food
- Local maps
- A cell phone with chargers, an inverter, or a solar charger
Remember that you may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice, so you won’t have time to search for the supplies you need, let alone shop for them. Disaster supply kits for work and home should be assembled well in advance of an emergency.
Preparedness Counts at Home Too
Safety at home is just as important as safety at work. Start by finding reliable information sources, warning systems, and alert systems in advance of any disaster, and remember that family communication is very important. The Department of Homeland Security provides downloadable family emergency plan resources, which help you collect vital information on convenient wallet-sized cards. It’s also critical to determine school and workplace plans so you know how to communicate with family members who may not be at home when a disaster occurs.
Take the First Steps
Preparation extends beyond Business Continuity week and can include disaster awareness and preparedness activities throughout the year. Taking action now can allow your business to continuously achieve its objectives before, during, and after a disaster. To learn more about these efforts, gain insight from other organizations, and share best practices, visit www.ready.gov/prepare.
Resiliency Consulting Services, L.L.C. certified recovery specialist can help your organization determine its risks, better understand the process flow for each mission-critical business function, and help develop and implement a detailed emergency response plan. We can help introduce the ICS, educate senior management on command and control functions, train staff on emergency procedures, and more. To learn more, contact your Moss Adams professional.
Dennis Rose has served rural utilities since 1998 and provided business continuity and disaster recovery services since 2007. His expertise includes risk assessments, business impact analysis, business continuity strategy development, Emergency Operations Plans, and crisis communications. Dennis can be reached at (512) 956-9023 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Dennis Rose, MBA, CBCP, DDI