Business Communications in the Event of a Disaster
Communication is often the primary key in the operation of any business. When a disaster takes place, communication can become even more vital, as proper communications can be the difference between tragic loss, and proper response. It means relaying your awareness of the situation, including any resources that you may be lacking, as well as the identification of any potential hazards or compounding issues. It’s also critical to make appropriate information available to members of the public who may be in or around your property. Often, building owners and managers tend to “keep things to themselves” for fear the information will not be well received, or will be misinterpreted.
Some key components of communication preparing for a disaster:
• Train your employees to know who to call, and when to call them. This is important for logistical purposes, insurance purposes and for legal purposes. If someone has been injured as a result of a disaster, then the right training can help employees to prioritize the response necessary to ensure that the individual gets the care that they need. Having a pre-arranged disaster response contractor is also essential, since they are the ones that will be actively involved in helping you recover.
When a disaster takes place, it may be simple to assume that you only need to contact emergency services, but that may not cover areas of disaster response such as the spill of hazardous chemicals, exposure of fuel sources to fires on the property, and much more. Injuries, potential structure collapse, and other potential issues need to be addressed through the proper channels so that information can be relayed quickly and clearly.
• Reach out to your resources. As part of the training for disaster preparation, having the right contact information on hand for the right resources can make a world of difference. Just as an example, knowing the right people to call in the event of a flooded building or other structural calamity, could mean getting a much more coherent and effective response. Communication, in this instance, means putting that information out to the right people at the right time.
This also means having the right channels for communication open. Depending on the size and scope of a disaster, you may be facing communication blockage due to an overload of local mobile networks. If and when possible, having physical landlines, and other channels, will mean bypassing those blockages when a disaster takes place.
• Make sure information and products are secure in the event of evacuation. There are different levels of disaster, but many will call for the evacuation of a property. While this does protect the safety of the people inside of a commercial property, it also means that property and information may be unprotected from damage or theft. Part of your communication strategy should involve confirmation of a lockdown or securing of any highly valuable assets, which includes data servers kept on site.
While this doesn't take priority over the actual lives involved, communicating the securing of any data or property could actually protect individuals from losing focus on their priorities as they respond to a disaster. The last thing that you'll want to find out is that someone was injured because they mistakenly believed it was their responsibility to make sure an area was safe.
Communication means quickly and clearly conveying any plans or ongoing actions as well. Having designated individuals who can relay that information to larger groups of people could be critical in responding to a disaster, especially if those individuals are in contact with local emergency services. Having a headcount of people who are on site, a list of flammable or toxic chemicals kept in inventory, and other important information needs to be communicated as part of a proper plan of action whenever and wherever a disaster occurs.
• Selecting the right contractor – in advance of a disaster. Too often, property owners and managers simply don’t think it will happen to them. Sadly, this “head in the sand” mentality is usually the main factor in the business failing to re-open after such a disaster. Just having a “go-to” trusted contractor that is very familiar with the building, the staff, the critical building shut-off’s, elevators, etc, is essential today.
Bottom line: Contact a trusted disaster recovery contractor that’s skilled in the many likely “disasters” that commonly happen in a building. Even better, make sure the contractor you select is PREP certified, and offers a free pre-disaster planning manual and program.