Facilities managers always need a plan to help their customers navigate natural disasters. Whether it’s a brutal thunderstorm, hurricane or wildfire, there’s no shortage of natural disasters that can disrupt your operations. These severe weather events can have major effects on any business.
Facilities services provider OpenWorks identifies three ways facility managers can help customers navigate natural disasters.
1. Identify your weaknesses
Examine your vulnerabilities. Whether it’s outdated systems, inexperienced staff, or structural concerns, take time to identify your weaknesses. Through research, surveys, testing, and other methods, consider taking a risk assessment to help understand and identify:
- Potential threats
- The current level of preparedness
- Where improvements are required
Once vulnerabilities and consequences are identified, it’s important to document and report the risk assessment findings and provide recommendations to address these potential hazards and risks.
2. Be prepared
Having plans and procedures in place minimizes damage to physical assets and saves lives when an emergency occurs. It also ensures when a disaster happens, your organization’s emergency personnel will be able to provide the best response possible.
Best practices include:
- Developing evacuation routes;
- Having shelter plans; and
- Conducting fire, hurricane, tornado, and power outage drills.
You can also prepare by developing policies, procedures, and protocols in collaboration with key stakeholders outside of your organization such as:
- Law enforcement
- Medical services
- Public health
- Fire services
Be sure to distribute emergency preparedness information in advance to your organization.
3. Have a response and recovery plan
Clear communication is crucial in every emergency to communicate with everyone in the facility regarding the situation and the appropriate action to be taken.
Emergency response plans should be a collaborative effort rather than developed by a single individual or group. Start by putting together a team of subject matter experts from different departments to determine your emergency response plans. Review this response plan annually and communicate key changes to your organization.
As part of the plan, you might need to line up alternative facilities, replacement equipment, supply sources, etc. For example:
- For an alternative facility, consider making a reciprocal agreement with a competitor outside of your immediate area so that in the event either of you experiences a disaster, the other will temporarily share its facilities.
- If you rely primarily on suppliers in your local area, develop relationships with those in another city or state in case your local suppliers are affected by the disaster.
- Have a communications plan for letting your customers know how to reach you if you cannot use your usual forms of communication.
- Compile a list of important phone numbers, including cell phone numbers. The list should include company officials and employees (home and cell phone numbers), local and state emergency agencies, major clients or customers, contractors, suppliers, realtors, financial institutions, insurance agents, and claims representatives.
- Store the following information offsite:
o A list of important phone numbers
o A list of your insurance policies
o An inventory of business equipment and other items (you may also want to have a video of these items)
o Backups of your business computer records
In general, recovery is an ongoing process. The type of recovery activities will vary based on the nature and scope of the emergency. However, the goal of the recovery phase is to restore and reestablish normal operations to ensure business continuity.
Discover the OpenWorks difference
OpenWorks has been helping customers navigate natural disasters and everyday issues for 40 years. With unparalleled service to thousands of facilities across North America thanks to 700 successful franchise owners across the nation, OpenWorks understands and implements specific needs at individual sites. Get an estimate to see if the company can address your needs today.