Disasters That Can Affect Your Business

An effective disaster recovery plan must identify the types of disasters that can occur because each type of disaster requires a different response and in some cases different preparation methods.  Some of the disasters you should consider include but are not limited to the following.

  • Area Wide Catastrophes:  This includes any type of disaster that can affect the entire area such as hurricanes and earthquakes.  These are the kinds of disasters where first responders may not be immediately available because they will be so busy or will be limited by the affects of the catastrophe.  The effects of area wide catastrophes can be felt for weeks, months and even years after they strike, but recover efforts that are planned and coordinated will help mitigate that effect.
  • Other Natural Disasters:  This would include situations such as tornados, high straight line winds, micro bursts, lightning strikes, excessive rain and floods, hail and freezing weather that breaks pipes.  When cars and trees are flying around, almost no building is safe from damage or complete destruction.
  • Systems Failures:  Failures or outages in the electrical system, breakdowns in the HVAC systems, transformer failures or explosions, gas service disruptions or pipe leaks, and elevator malfunctions can all have a negative effect on business.
  • Fires:  Fires are only good when contained in a fireplace, fire pit or other safe situation.  When they strike at night they can ruin a business and when they strike in the daytime they can injure or kill people.  Things that we use everyday such as stoves, coffee pots, dryers, toasters, and similar devices can all fail and cause fires.
  • Interior Flood:  Any sudden and accidental release incident from broken or frozen pipes, condensate lines, bath tubes, toilets, washing machines of similar situation can stop business, ruin important records and books and can completely disrupt business and normal life until it is cleaned up, dried out and repaired.
  • Vehicular Related:  Cars run into buildings and houses every day, with negative results in most cases.  But when a vehicle breaks off a gas meter or line, hits a power pole that crashes down onto your building, or otherwise creates a much worse situation could occur.  This type of disaster could also include plane crashing into the buildings or parts of planes falling off and coming through the roof.
  • Random Acts of Violence:  This could include domestic violence, suicide, homicide, sexual assault, acts of terrorism, suspicious letters and packages, simple assault, robbery, gunshots fired, drunken behavior, and other similar incidents.  Each situation has its own unique opportunity to either respond quickly, carefully and with reason or to panic.  Planning reduces the panic factor and helps people respond in a helpful manner.
  • Considerations of Special Needs Personnel:  Special needs personnel for the purposes of disaster planning, could be defined as elderly, blind, deaf, wheelchair bound or otherwise limited in perception and the ability to react and leave the disaster area.

Planning and basic training for these possible incidents can expedite personnel through the reaction and recovery process which can mitigate damage to property, save lives and help the business recover more quickly.  Each of the disasters listed above has its own characteristics that must be planned and trained for – even in a basic sense of just being aware of the possibility that these disasters can occur.

Simple steps like having key personnel attend Red Cross First Aid and CPR lessons can make huge differences in whether someone lives or not.  Other disaster response training opportunities such as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training and FEMA independent study courses that are available free on the internet are also good places to start your awareness and training program.  CERT training includes light fire suppression, light search and rescue, first aid and triage in mass casualty situations, use of equipment, organizing for recovery and other helpful subjects.

The CERT training program starts with the basic premise that “You are either part of the problem or you are part of the solution.”, which at first seems harsh, but by the time you have finished the course, you will agree that those people with training are much better prepared and equipped to be part of the solution to whatever disaster strikes.

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