The best time to respond to a disaster is before it happens. Attention and effort now may prevent severe damage and help mitigate the effects of a hurricane-related disruption of your business in the future. Here are a few safe practices to do before a storm hits:
Develop a Comprehensive Plan. An effective hurricane survival plan should be written down and reviewed annually. For many companies, an Emergency Action Plan (EAP) is required by OSHA, so hurricane planning can be considered as a part of the EAP planning and review each year. This plan should address policies and procedures for employee safety regarding hurricanes, business continuity and contingency plans in the face of damage to the business's facilities, policies for dealing with employees, customers and vendors, etc. OSHA suggests that some of the key elements of an effective plan are:
• Conditions that will activate the plan
• Chain of command
• Emergency functions and who will perform them
• Specific evacuation procedures, including routes and exits • Procedures for accounting for personnel, customers and visitors
• Equipment for personnel
Determine procedures and individual crisis management responsibilities. Identify which personnel are required to be on-site in the days surrounding a hurricane, as well as which personnel are essential to business function, whether required on-site or not. Be sure to communicate areas of accountability and responsibility for key personnel and how to perform their emergency-response duties effectively.
Coordinate with others. Understand the hurricane response plans of other businesses in your area as well as police, fire department, hospitals, and utility companies. It is also helpful to communicate with suppliers, shippers, and others with whom you regularly do business.
Prepare employees. Communicate your hurricane plan with your all personnel; ensure understanding of roles, responsibilities and expectations for every employee.
Review emergency plans annually. Assess changes in your business or to the community that may affect your hurricane response plan and make the necessary changes each year.