Five steps to prepare for an emergency

In light of Hurricane Harvey, many families and businesses are reflecting on what they can do to better prepare for a disaster. Having an emergency plan in place can make all the difference during a crisis, and it’s important to create one before the event.

Be PreparedSeptember is National Preparedness Month, which is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is supported by relief organizations, like the Red Cross. In recognition of National Preparedness Month and in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we’re covering five steps to help you and your business prepare for an emergency. You’ll also find a list of resources below to help you implement each of the five steps.

  1. Assess potential hazards

It’s important to identify what types of risk exposures exist for your workplace. Consider the hazards that can occur from your type of business, such as chemical exposure or fire danger, but also consider what external factors could cause a crisis at your workplace, such as bad weather, an active shooter, or wildfire danger. Discuss these scenarios and how to manage them with your leadership team so that you, your employees and your workplace are protected as best as possible.

  1. Be informed

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to keep your employees informed and give guidance to them when it’s needed. It’s important to stay up to speed with what’s going on in your community, so take a moment to find out the best way to get information for your area.

Many local news stations offer text alerts, and state agencies and local governments often operate their own Twitter handles to disseminate important information quickly.

News travels fast by word of mouth, so get to know your neighbors in surrounding buildings. Talk about disaster planning and see how you could work together to keep each other informed, report emergencies and handle crises.

  1. Make a plan

Once you identify potential hazards and determine how your business will handle each type of situation, put your plans in writing. Having a written plan will help make sure everyone knows their role and will ensure consistency in your emergency response.

Your emergency action plan (EAP) should include specifics such as:

  • How to report emergencies
  • Who to report to
  • When and how to evacuate the workplace
  • How to lockdown your workplace

In addition to your EAP, prepare a crisis communication plan to document how you will communicate with internal and external audiences.

A crisis communication plan should include:

  • Who you will notify within your company of a crisis situation and how you will notify them
  • What information you will share with employees and how you will communicate with them
  • Who will handle conversations with external audiences such as local, state, and federal authorities
  • Pre-prepared message templates or samples, such as e-mails, letters, tweets, press releases, or text messages, that you can easily update for a specific situation
  1. Get equipped

Prepare your workplace for emergencies with the right supplies and equipment, such as a first aid kit, cardiac defibrillator, fire extinguisher, and an eye wash station, if one is needed for your type of work. Your employees should know where to locate these resources, and you should regularly check them to make sure they are fully stocked and in working condition.

  1. Practice

After you put your plans in writing, it’s important to practice. It can be difficult to remember what to do when an emergency arises, so practicing specific scenarios will help your employees react smoothly. Your plan is only as strong as the people that understand it and know how to execute it. Schedule regular planned and unplanned drills throughout the year.

Emergencies can happen at any time, but these five steps will help you prepare for the unexpected. You can also find more than 2,000 free resources for policyholders, including emergency and disaster planning videos and presentations, on texasmutual.com.

Find more resources below from other organizations that can help you in your emergency planning:

If your business has been significantly affected by Hurricane Harvey, visit texasmutual.com/txmfortexas to see what Texas Mutual is doing to help and to find resources for your business.

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