By Sherry Robinson – President & CEO, ACTN Strategies LLC
As hurricane season approaches, it is time to dust off the emergency plan to get ahead of the curve. Although hurricanes are not new, this year may be quite a bit different with the added challenges of COVID-19 and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s prediction of an unusually severe season. Lessons learned from the daily challenges associated with the pandemic remind us of how important it is to have an emergency preparedness plan in place, or revise an existing plan, to balance staying inside/ social distancing guidelines with evacuation orders related to storms or floods resulting from a hurricane.
What Every Emergency Operations Program Must Have
It is imperative that all organizations have actionable preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery plans in place to minimize risk and sustain business continuity. Let us take a closer look at these four phases and how they relate to hurricane preparedness:
Hazard Preparedness – While you cannot prevent a Hurricane from happening, you can certainly stay informed by monitoring the National Weather Service as well as regional and local media weather reports to stay abreast of current storm information. It is also vital to plan as early as possible to prepare for any potential impact the hurricane could have on your area.
Risk Mitigation – The number one priority for any organization is to identify risk and develop mitigation plans, particularly those associated with protecting human life. One simple and effective way to protect your workforce is to be aware of the organization’s proximity to volatile or hazardous locations and plan an evacuation route that avoids these areas.
If your organization needs uninterrupted power, testing your generators regularly to make sure they are working properly can be a very cost-effective way to reduce risk to your assets.
Emergency Response – While hurricanes can generally be predicted ahead of time, they have the ability to cause very unpredictable flash flooding. This can happen very suddenly and without much warning. Where should you go? Should you seek Safe Haven or evacuate? Because every organization is unique every preparedness plan should have detailed responses worked out for every possible scenario. It is crucial you and your workforce are educated on the best possible response in the event of an emergency.
Recovery – Having a recovery plan in place is critical in the event of a hurricane. This final phase is focused on returning the organization to its pre-hurricane state, or as close as possible. Short term objectives for this phase may include clean-up and repair or the restoration of essential functions. Long-term recovery efforts may be ongoing and include the development of new processes moving forward.
Reducing the financial burden a hurricane can create is another important consideration. Determine if your company’s location and/or assets are in a flood zone. If they are, acquiring a specific, separate insurance policy can greatly increase a company’s capacity to recover from severe circumstances such as flooding from hurricanes or other storms.
Do Not Be Caught Unprepared
Having a solid understanding of how to respond in any emergency, including a hurricane, will give you and your organization an enormous competitive advantage when the unexpected occurs. Although financial resources are currently being consumed to create the “New Normal” work environment, creating a more robust emergency awareness program as part of that response is a strategic business decision. All of it seems like a daunting task, but great news! You do not have to do it alone.
How We Can Help
ACTN Strategies offers expertise in the development of an all-inclusive emergency operations program designed to balance pandemic safety requirements with business continuity, including ready-to use Employee Awareness training to educate your organization on what to do in any emergency, such as Natural (Hurricanes/Earthquake), Security (Active Shooter/Suspicious Package) or Technological (Fire/Gas Leak). Learn more about our services and training at www.actnstrategies.com.