By Karlene Sinclair-Robinson
Not too long ago, someone drove their truck into a utility pole that caused the power to go out. This created some major changes for residents, schools and business owners alike, as they tried to juggle dealing with the power outage and traffic pattern diversions. I am sure this was no fun even though this was an accident. I am also sure not one was expecting this kind of event when they got up to go to work or school that morning.
This brought to mind the thought of what would you do to make sure your business was still functional? Thinking that power outages can happen at any time and not just when there is a storm, should be cause for concern to any business owner. How do you make sure your business is still operational during times like these? This is a question that should be addressed in each company’s operations and emergency manual or plan.
Operations and Emergency Plans
If you are operating your business without an operations and an emergency plan, you need to seriously go back to the foundation of your business. You know what hours the business opens and closes. You have a location with guidelines for leasing or owning the property that would include you being responsible for grounds maintenance or property taxes. Whatever is applicable to your operating the business on a daily basis should be considered in this plan.
Having a backup process or plan for such emergencies as power outages, floods or computer system crashing is a necessity. This must be a written part of your operations and emergency plans. These emergencies should not be something you think about after the fact. Power outages are not new, so why not address them now? If the tree nearest your building suddenly breaks and falls, without a storm being the cause, what would you do? You must be prepared, to some extent, for these eventualities.
I am sure many of you remember Hurricane Katrina and more recently, Tropical Super Storm Sandy. These storms came and went and left in their wake widespread disasters. Many were prepared for these storms, while others were not. People are still in the recovery mode. Does that mean it is pointless getting ready? No, it is not. When you and your staff are versed on what your company policies are when such events occur, it will alleviate some element of surprise, and provide a faster reaction time for a better outcome while keeping everyone safe.
What should be included in an Operations or Emergency Plan
It is important to have as part of your operations and emergency plans the following:
- Business hours of operations and what to do if there is a crisis.
- Alternate phone number in case there is problem with the company’s number.
- Who will be on-call during emergency and whether there is an on-call system after hours.
- Local area emergency contact info – this should include hospitals, police/rescue, shelter, utility companies and phone companies.
- Implementation processes for potential disasters.
In schools and in the medical field, many perform various safety drills as part of their emergency plan. Other industries also facilitate these emergency processes. Create a plan and educate your staff on implementation processes. This will help to reduce panic in times of need and maintain smooth transitions during times of crisis.