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Natural disasters are one of the most frightening causes of building damage. Along with being difficult to predict, they are also impossible to prevent and can quickly become life threatening. For business owners, a natural disaster can mean the end of their ability to operate as a company and a situation that puts their staff in danger. Although a natural disaster like a fire, flood, or storm might be hard to foresee, there are ways that businesses can prepare for a potentially harmful situation. Pre-loss planning practices involve simple steps that a company can take to protect its buildings, assets, and employees from disaster emergencies. A disaster preparedness plan will not only protect your business and employees, but it will help streamline the recovery process and allow you to return to daily operations quickly. With ServiceMaster Recovery by C2C Restoration, you’ll benefit from our comprehensive services for commercial restoration in Orange County, CA and the surrounding areas. Our disaster recovery processes are quick and effective, but when companies have implemented pre-loss planning tactics, our restoration technicians can work faster and provide a quicker return to your business’s peak conditions.
There are many kinds of natural disasters and other crises that businesses can face in southern California. From wildfires and flooding to thunderstorms and extreme heat, there are many conditions that can force temporary closure and severe building damage. Despite the variety of disasters that can occur, initiating a pre-loss planning system for your business can mitigate many problems ahead of time and allow you to return to normal operations faster.
What is Pre-Loss Planning?
Pre-loss planning is a form of preventative maintenance that not only pertains to the facilitates of a business, but to the employees and the goals of a company as well. An effective pre-loss plan is based on the expectation that a disaster could happen at any time and the company as a whole can take steps to prepare for the problems and dangers that could arise.
There are many components of a pre-loss plan that help a company put disaster preparedness into practice. If you’re just starting to build a disaster preparedness program at your company, there are some core features that can get you started. Some of the most effective plans that we’ve seen our clients use in the face of past disasters include the following steps.
- Analyze threats:
Depending on your company’s location, you may face different kinds of natural disasters and other threats. In Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties, for example, threats of wildfires, earthquakes, and coastal storms are all serious risks. Other risks, like flooding and building fires, can also be sources of severe damage. Do your research to find the protections and responses to these threats that are recommended to different types of businesses. The City of Los Angeles offers statistics about the region and lists resources available locally for households and businesses facing disaster. The Los Angeles Fire Department has also implemented a “Ready, Set, Go” program for brush fires and other causes of building fires. LA County’s emergency management site goes more into depth about different potential disasters, and national resources like FEMA and the Red Cross provide disaster preparedness plan guidelines.
2. Create a team:
ServiceMaster Recovery by C2C Restoration offers disaster preparedness guidance and pre-loss planning assistance through our commercial restoration services. While our technicians can give support for pre-loss preparations, it’s also important to designate a team within your company that will work together to create a business continuity plan and assign responsibilities. Building a team that will outline disaster preparedness strategies and appoint post-disaster roles for all your employees will help streamline the recovery process. It also reduces potential chaos when a disaster occurs and gives all staff members a sense of control.
When your assigned team creates practical, straightforward strategies your company can use to react in the face of a disaster, it will prepare each employee and management team with a responsibility to act accordingly. You can also increase your team’s capabilities with training and educational resources. The Red Cross offers CPR and other certification classes and FEMA provides support for businesses creating disaster exercise plans.
3. Organize contacts:
If you don’t have a database of your staff’s contact information, start building one now. Not only does it help you keep in contact with staff in general, it’s a necessary part of a good disaster preparedness plan. An effective contact list will include phone numbers, addresses, emails, and even emergency contacts.
The most thorough contact list will also include information for customers, insurance companies, financial institutions, and a rapid-response disaster restoration provider like ServiceMaster Recovery by C2C Restoration. Microsoft Office provides a contact list template that you can use as a starting point for building your own disaster preparedness contact database.
4. Determine essentials:
If your business faces building damage from a disaster or another cause of serious interruption of normal operations, you can maintain some form of work and company support with essential employees, equipment, and inventory. Identifying which of your staff is essential, how they will continue working through a disaster, and what work equipment they will need is a major part of the recovery process.
Essential workers usually include some part of your management team, HR department, and IT staff. Managers can delegate the responsibilities of the rest of your staff, work with insurance providers, and contact a restoration company. HR will work with the nonessential staff members to help them with temporary unemployment income or disaster pay and implement other relevant workplace policies. IT can get essential workers the technology they need at home or at an off-site workspace so business operations can continue in whatever capacity you’ve planned for. Various work-from-home policies can help you set up a short-term system for essential employees.
5. Protect data:
In addition to recovering your building and physical workspace after a disaster, it’s important to protect digital information and company data. This includes financial records, login information, staff records, emails, and more. Using a cloud system or other virtual storage space to protect company data is an important part of effective pre-loss planning practices. IBM researches data security technology and offers international resources for methods of digital data protection.
6. Find off-site workspaces:
Depending on how long it will take to restore your building and facilities, you may need to find an off-site workspace for all of your employees or have a work-from-home policy in place. After the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work resources became available to many different industries. Having a plan for remote company operations will help you keep your workers safe and limit the downtime of your business. Zoom and other virtual meeting spaces make it possible to communicate with employees working remotely, and there are many co-working spaces available in LA County and the surrounding areas.
If a disaster occurs during the workday, plan a space for your staff to go to and make sure there are multiple routes they can take. Routes can be blocked by flooding, fires, downed trees, damaged buildings, and traffic accidents during a disaster. Create an exit strategy and designate a meeting location to protect your employees in the face of a disaster.
7. Put together emergency supplies:
Create an emergency kit for your staff members and your company as a whole. If a disaster is severe, your employees might not be able to leave the building for some time. Keeping emergency supplies could mean the difference between life and death in the event of a serious emergency.
An effective emergency kit should include food, water, first-aid supplies, flashlights and batteries, tool kits, radios, blankets, fire extinguishers, exit routes, copies of your company contact list, a copy of a business continuity plan, and more. You can purchase pre-made FEMA compliant emergency kits, but FEMA and the Red Cross also provide more extensive check lists and instructions for building your own emergency kits.
8. Practice, practice, practice:
With your assigned disaster preparedness team and the rest of your staff, practice your business continuity plan, exit strategy, and any additional pre-loss planning strategies. Running exercises will help your staff prepare their movements and responsibilities if a disaster hits, keeps panic at bay during an emergency, and gives employees the confidence they will need if danger does arise at work. Practicing plans, testing remote work options, and running virtual scenarios will also help your team streamline and improve preparations.
Benefits of Disaster Preparedness
Not only does disaster preparedness play a large part in protecting worker safety during an emergency, it also gives your business options for continued operations even in the face of severe building damage and loss of resources. With effective disaster preparedness strategies in place, your business will also be set up for a quick and comprehensive restoration and full recovery. Our commercial restoration experts can work faster and communicate more efficiently with insurance providers to return your business to pre-loss conditions.
To learn more about disaster preparedness, pre-loss planning, and our services for 24/7/365 commercial restoration in Orange County, CA and the local regions, contact ServiceMaster Recovery by C2C Restoration at firstname.lastname@example.org or at our fast-response LA line: (323) 851-5543. For emergencies, contact us at (877) 468-3566.