What Kind of Communications Are Needed During a Major Disaster?
In any business, good communications are vital to the continued operation of your business. Disasters happen, and you already know, it’s not a matter of IF, but a matter of WHEN! When a disaster strikes your property, superb communications will be critical, since accurate communications can be the difference between a terrible loss, and the appropriate 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.
Here a four preparation ideas:
- 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.
Securing of any data or property could 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 or data was secure.
- Advance contact of 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.
- 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.
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 exposure of fuel sources to fires, the spill of hazardous chemicals, and much more. Even 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. Just having designated individuals who can relay that information to larger groups of people are critical to responding appropriately to a property disaster, especially if those individuals are in contact with local emergency services.
- 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, and the critical building controls is essential.
Any disaster recovery contractor you select should be PREP Certified and offer a free pre-disaster planning manual and program. Just having that trusted disaster contractor arranged in advance of your disaster will help you get back in business quickly.