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Creating a Catastrophe Response Plan

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Catastrophic events can take many forms, from natural disasters to explosions to industrial spills. While ranging widely in scale and scope, a local catastrophe can have far-reaching consequences for businesses in the area.

Consider that 40 to 60 percent of small businesses never reopen after a disaster. Then, 90 percent of those that do reopen fail within a year if they were unable to resume operations within five days. If you want your business to be resilient, you should be prepared to respond to any emergency that could arise. Here are some tips to help your business create a catastrophe response plan.

  • Put a team together: Decide which key personnel you will choose to lead and plan your catastrophe response. A team comprised of members from various departments can provide diverse perspectives.
  • Consider the threats: Natural disasters could include earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or tornadoes. Non-weather-related events could be a threat as well, including medical emergencies, biological hazards, or interruptions to your utility service. Then, human acts to consider include robbery, arson, explosions, hazardous leaks or spills, workplace violence, and terrorist attacks.
  • Perform a business impact analysis: Consider what operational and financial functions could be affected if your business was disrupted. Anticipate the impact of lost or delayed sales, increased expenses, and customer dissatisfaction lasting different lengths of time. For instance, closing your doors for one day due to minor building damage would have a far lesser effect than having to relocate if the building is destroyed.
  • Create a business continuity plan: Map out the steps your business will take to get back up and running once the disaster passes. Identify potential relocation sites, make plans for replacing electronic equipment and office furnishings, and create an emergency cash fund. Record the contact information of your employees, clients, and critical service providers, with copies stored offsite in case the building is off-limits.
  • Develop a communications plan: Decide how you will disseminate information to your employees and clients in an emergency. Mass notification systems, company hotlines, and other techniques may be used.
  • Make the plan readily available: Once you have completed your catastrophe response plan, make sure every team member gets a copy. Also, store an electronic version on a private, secure cloud server.
  • Maintain the plan: Your business situation is likely to change, and when it does, your catastrophe response plan could as well. Update any changes in processes, equipment needs, and other factors about once a quarter. Make changes to employee, client, and service provider contact information as they occur. Then, have the team hold an annual meeting to review and test the plan.

At DKI, we respond to catastrophes within two hours of your request for help. Once dispatched, we work tirelessly to help get your home or business back to normal. If your business has been impacted by a storm, major accident, or human-made disaster, please contact us at (844) 354-2255. Whatever happens, we’re here to help.