Flooded: Keeping Your Business Out of Hot Water

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Fifteen inches of rain over the course of just a few days caused what is being described as a 1,000 year flood in the mountains of Colorado this past September.  Rainfall patterns turned rains into a biblical storm that ravaged the lands and forced unsuspecting residents out of their homes and a disaster proclamation. Now, while they rebuild, many wonder how they could have been prepared for something like this.

“The area has flooded before, but never like this.” With an increase in population in this country, paired with manmade and natural changes to the environment, we will see an abundance of climate-based devastation, yet the key is to find out how to be prepared. How do you prepare for a storm that had a .001 chance of occurring?

It WILL happen. This isn’t negativity, this is preparedness, and many people would rather believe the sun will always shine instead of invest in a gloomy uncertainty.  It can work to lessen the shock of the event, and allows people to think critically about their needs.

2013 Colorado Flood Photo Map - The Denver Post - Mozilla Firefox 1022013 113514 AM

Points on map reflect where flooding and damage occurred

Floods are the most expensive and widespread of all disasters. According to the Small Business Administration, businesses are more likely to flood than burn down, so it is vital to prepare now.

The following checklist from Agility Recovery will help keep your business afloat even if the worst happens. “The following resources and tools will help mitigate your risk and protect not only your business, but also the most critical element of your business – your people.”
Before the Flood

  • Review Emergency Plan with team, and key employees
  • Take all necessary steps to prevent the release of dangerous chemicals that might be stored on your property – locate main gas and electrical shut-offs and anchor all fuel tanks
  • Postpone any receipt of goods- deliveries, couriers, etc.
  • Contact insurance agent, discuss policy, etc.
  • Establish emergency communication method (Alert Notification System, phone tree, etc.); identify meeting place and time for all key employees in Crisis Management Team; create voicemail for when evacuated, or out of office, etc.
  • Update disaster recovery kits and begin crisis back-up procedures
  • Maintain accurate inventory of product on site
  • Use plugs to prevent floodwater from backing up into sewer drains, or install flood vents/or flood proof barriers
  • Stay tuned to local media & community messaging

During the Flood

  • Life safety is paramountBegin next phase of your business continuity plan
  • Send non-critical staff home
  • Raise elevators to the 2nd floor and turn off
  • Stay tuned to local media- evacuate when required
  • Take cell phones, charger, critical hardware, and emergency kits with you
  • Unplug electrical items before leaving
  • Consider your business phones and redirection to cell phones, an answering service, or Google Voice
After the Flood

  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage – water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded, roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet, mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals
  • Implement DR plan, and monitor local authorities’ communication
  • Contact employees via determined method of communication and discuss next stepsContact your insurance agent
Your People

  • Ensure you have an emergency communication plan in place prior to the storm, evacuation, or threat
  • Have all employees, vendors, and client contact information on hand
  • During evacuation have a central point of contact for all employees, and ensure you know where your employees are located
  • Following the flood, notify all critical people of next steps, based on damage

Helping to Mitigate your Risk for Flood Interruption:

Do You Know the Terms?
•Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
• Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
• Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning:  A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
For more information about flood prevention visit www.floodsmart.gov.
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Safety in Schools and Your Community: Identifying Risks

During the last blog entry, we introduced the four phases of emergency preparedness. Today, we want to discuss hazard mitigation and preparedness while highlighting K-12 school risks. When we look at the emergencies that have swept schools over the years, what becomes the most difficult to assess is the ripple effect that it has on the overall community. If a school is damaged by a natural disaster or violated by an attacker, it compromises the quality of that community’s infrastructure and demands reevaluation of protocol and policies. Even more importantly, when the safety of our children has been compromised, the community must learn to better identify and prepare to recover from emotionally, physically and administrative challenges for the long-term.

Here at REM4, we are constantly reminded that there will always be hazards that are difficult to plan for. We wish to emphasize the importance of proactive hazard and risk assessments and programming so that you can create hazard mitigation and preparedness tools that will aid you in time of need, and ease recovery.

What is a Risk Assessment?

The purpose of risk assessments is to identify demonstrated vulnerabilities/hazards that will turn into liabilities for damage and policy, should the hazards not be addressed. The risk assessment is one of the first implemented documents in your Crisis Binder.  

There are several types of challenges that risk assessments seek to target:

  • School emergency and crisis preparedness planning
  • Security crime and violence prevention policies and procedures
  • Physical security measures including access control, communications capabilities, intrusion detection systems, perimeter security, after hours security, physical design, and many related areas
  • Professional development training needs related to school safety and emergency planning
  • Examination of support service roles in school safety, security, and emergency planning including facilities operations, food services, transportation services, pupil services, physical and mental health services, technology services, and associated school departments
  • School security and school police staffing, operational practices, and related services
  • Linking of security with prevention and intervention services
  • Personnel and internal security
  • School-community collaboration, school and public safety agency partnerships, and school-community relations issues on school safety

List courtesy of: http://www.schoolsecurity.org/consultants/security-assessments.html

 

Investment in a high-quality risk assessment is the first step in instilling a solid foundation for hazard mitigation and preparedness programming. For example, studying the crime rates and statistics in your community aid in evaluating your security needs, researching the natural hazards that have historically hit the region allow you to create sound evacuation and shelter-in-place drills/procedures, and knowing the special skills of your own staff will ensure that you have valuable assistance in any given crisis. Lists provided by professionals in Emergency Preparedness and Technology are the first step in risk assessment.

Emergency 101 Tips: Take your time and make risk assessment a priority. Question multiple resources including experts of different capacities on staff (i.e. facilities, maintenance, security, principal) and archived documents.

Already have a risk assessment, but there may be holes or it hasn’t been updated in a while? Don’t fret. Set up a recurring audit for your risk assessment is one way of ensuring that new information is added into your tool. Updating risk assessments is necessary to ensure quality data and programming is in place!  

Interested in an easier way to not only create, but implement a risk assessment? REM4ed is a leading expert in emergency management and preparedness, including a high-quality risk assessment tool and training for proper planning. Contact one of our experts for a consultation today: info@rem4ed.com