How to Prepare Your Business for Emergencies and Disasters – Part 3

Shelby Edwards is the founder of ODT & Associates, LLC, writer, and crisis expert. She has immense experience in the emergency preparedness field and is bringing you the three steps you need to prep your workplace for any disaster. We’ve already brought you the first step – Identify and the second step – Plan. With today’s article you will have the final step you need – Practice. You can find Shelby’s work, more articles, and free how-to guides at

shutterstock_77889775When we head into the office each day, most of us are pre-occupied with thoughts of our first meeting, deadlines, the school project from last night, even breakfast, anything but preparing our workplaces for disasters.

Unfortunately however, over 40% of companies closed for five days or more during a major event never reopen.

Why? I think it’s because disaster planning is like going to the dentist or talking to our accountants –we think it is an unpleasant chore and it all seems slightly scary and complicated. We don’t know what to tackle first so we never start.

Take this and start. A little time with each step and you will have a more resilient and disaster ready workplace.

Work through each element. Schedule the work –it doesn’t have to be done all at once.

Step 3. Practice

Like most things in life, you’re simply not really ready until you practice. Make it real. Simple things can be very difficult in a disaster.

Train your staff. It’s important that everybody knows what to do in an emergency and what your plans are. Keep it short and make it fun.

Have a fire drill. An “evacuation drill” is a great, easy, and important place to start. Get out of the building quickly and safely, make sure you have all of your people, and then get back to work. You can take this to the next level by inviting the fire department to your drill (call them, don’t actually pull the alarm –fake alarms make them very cranky).

Contact your employees. Once every three or four months, call all of your employees just like you would in a real emergency. Test your communications plan and those non-work personal numbers. How hard was it? Did you reach everyone?

Disaster scenario’s. Plan and conduct disaster exercises based on realistic scenarios with your teams. This is the best way to strengthen your plans and build confidence. Start with a simple emergency and work up to more complex disasters. Get some outside expert help with this if you need it.


Each small step matters so just start. Take that slow walk through your building and around your neighborhood. Talk to your team. It’s about incremental improvements and with each action you will be a little more prepared. Try to include everyone and have a little fun along the way.

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