A natural or man-made disaster strikes. Your business is in jeopardy. What would your employees do?
If your answer is, “Whatever we need to keep the company going,” you might be ignoring a fundamental tenet of human nature: “We look out for number one first.”
In most cases, number one is not your business.
That’s why Vistage member Norris Beren , founder of the Emergency Preparedness Educational Institutesm, recommends that CEOs take an active interest in the “people” part of emergency planning.
“It’s great when executives make business continuation plans, but they often neglect their employees. If their employees have personal emergency preparedness plans in place, it’s more likely they’ll stay at their desks — on the job — knowing that ‘home and hearth’ are taken care of,” says Beren.
“Beyond that, helping employees plan for emergencies shows them that you care about them personally, regardless of the outcome for your business,” explains Beren, who wrote the recently released book, “When Disaster Strikes Home! 101+ Ways to Protect Your Family from Unthinkable Emergencies.”
“The initial message needs to come from the CEO,” says Beren. “You need to tell everyone in the organization thatpersonally preparing for an emergency is a priority, as part of your commitment to them, and the company.”
One way to help employees is to give each of them a folder marked: “My Emergency Plan” and ask them to keep it on file. (Remember: Computers may fail in an emergency, so maintaining a hard copy of this emergency information will ensure its availability.)
You and everyone else in your company should be able to answer the following questions:
- Who is your “out-of-area” contact person — the one everyone would call in case local communications are interrupted? Everyone in your family should have this person’s name and telephone number with them at all times.
- What are your back-up plans for your dependents should you be unable to return home from work on time?These plans should cover children, teens, disabled family members and elderly dependents. Be sure to have home and work telephone numbers, cell phone numbers and addresses available for anyone who has agreed to help as a back-up.
- What neutral meeting places have you identified, in case your home is temporarily unavailable or unreachable? It’s a good idea to pick two or three of these. Designate a community center, school, police station, or house of worship as the place you will meet your family. Choose one within a half mile of your home, one that is about a mile away, and one that is farther out but within safe walking distance.
- Do you have sufficient supplies on hand, in the event of an emergency? Your checklist for the home should include:
- An up-to-date first-aid kit
- Flashlights and fresh batteries
- A telephone that doesn’t require electricity to operate
- Unscented bleach to purify water (Use only bleach with 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as its active ingredient, and use 12 drops per gallon if the water is clear; 14 drops if the water is cloudy.)
- Enough nonperishable food for at least three days
- Paper plates, plastic utensils, etc.
- Provisions for toiletries and personal cleanliness
- Emergency phone numbers, and non-emergency phone numbers, for local police and fire authorities and state policePhone numbers for physicians and dentists for each family member
5. Do you keep at least three days worth of any prescribed medications with you at all times, in the event that you cannot get home?
- As an employer, you should address the issue of where medications can be kept — and how to ensure that they are not available to everyone on the staff, just for the person who might need to use them.Beren says some companies are taking the initiative to create “shelter in place” plans for their employees. He has noticed this trend particularly with those companies whose offices are in high-rise buildings.”I’ve seen a number of law firms that have prepared with supplies to keep on premises, so if they had to shelter their staff overnight, they have emergency bed rolls, food supplies, flashlights, water, toiletries, and so on,” he explains.
“These actions drive home the dual message that companies are prepared, and companies care,” he says.