The first few moments following an emergency are critical and time-sensitive. For that reason, it’s vital to have an emergency action plan checklist in place for your small business. Having this checklist will enable your business to spend the limited time you have before or immediately after an emergency taking well planned actions instead of scrambling to react.
In this post, we’ll outline nine actions that small businesses should consider including in their emergency checklist.
1. Make Provisions for Shelter-in-Place or Evacuation
Depending on the type of emergency, one of the first decisions you may face is whether to evacuate or shelter-in-place. It’s important to have comprehensive plans in place for both scenarios. When making this decision, you should always follow the advice of your local officials.
Events that require shelter-in-place may include tornado warnings, chemical incidents, or active shooters. Events that put your building in danger typically require evacuation. It’s important to have a clearly defined, accessible, and well-lit evacuation route. Make sure that all employees and stakeholders are aware of your evacuation route.
2. Reach Out to All Individuals Affected by the Disaster
When disaster strikes, many different people are affected, including customers, employees, family members, and emergency responders. A thorough emergency action plan checklist establishes processes to communicate with all affected individuals, including those in need of additional assistance because of disabilities or other conditions.
3. Establish Roles and Responsibilities
In emergency situations, it’s critical to understand roles and responsibilities. By determining a clear chain of command in advance, you will ensure that the appropriate actions have taken place and minimize confusion. Make sure that all key tasks are assigned, including shutting down critical operations and accounting for all employees.
4. Prioritize Fire Safety Planning
While most of us typically consider the effects of natural disasters or other severe weather occurrences on safety and small business continuity, many underestimate the threat of fires. Make sure that your emergency checklist includes fire safety strategies, including compliance with fire regulations and routine safety inspections.
5. Ensure Your Plan is Well Documented
An emergency action plan is only as good as its documentation. It’s important to detail all the essential information so that it is easily accessible in an emergency event. Make sure that physical copies are available onsite and electronic copies are stored securely online in case you are unable to access your facility physically.
6. Account for Employee Training
If your employees are aware of the types of emergencies that may occur and are equipped to respond to them, your business’ emergency response will be much more seamless. You should start by providing training at the time of hire. You should also provide routine training, especially after any changes in processes, business design, or personnel.
7. Schedule Routine Reviews and Updates
An emergency response action list should be dynamic. As your business changes, it’s critical to update your emergency action list accordingly. You should also routinely review your plan and identify any shortcomings. A simple way to do this is through drills. During the drills, identify which aspects did not go smoothly and revise your emergency action plan checklist according to these weaknesses.
8. Incorporate Post-Disaster Planning
Your emergency action plan checklist should continue even after the event has occurred. The best plans also include processes that support employee health and recovery after a disaster.
9. Consider Communications
Communication is critical to any emergency action plan checklist. Make sure to have communication methods in place so that your employees can access key information in an emergency scenario. Check out this post for tips on what to consider when choosing an emergency notification solution for your business.
These points can help ensure the best outcomes for your small business should an emergency occur.