Facility Dude

Consider these disaster response tips to ensure your facility is prepared

By Kate Donnelly
Jun 17, 2015

Safety and Risk Management

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Your facility likely already has a plan in place for a number of common emergencies, such as fire. But when it comes to preparing for potential emergencies, there's really no such thing as going too far.

Examine your disaster response plans. Do you feel confident that they prepare you, your facility and your tenants to react as safely and quickly as possible in the face of any number of potential threats? Here are a few things to consider to make sure that if the unexpected should happen, you'll be ready.

Know your building

As your building's facility manager, you are likely more familiar with its ins and outs than most of the other occupants. But when it comes to preparing for a potential crisis, there's a different kind of knowledge and awareness you should be cultivating. While natural disasters can be difficult to predict, there are certain things you can take into account that can help you prepare for the most likely possibilities. Things like your building's size, geographic location and even specifics of its operation can offer vital clues as to what dangers you may potentially have to face.

For example, hospitals, research centers and other high-security facilities that regularly handle hazardous materials should consider that they are at higher risk for a medical or public health emergency. While this isn't to say you should ignore any other type of possible crisis, be sure that you have at least this base covered.

Prepare for anything

As the old idiom goes, you should hope for the best while preparing for the worst. This is especially true for your disaster preparedness efforts. Your response and evacuation plans should take all types of situations into account. For example, do you have a contingency in place if your building loses power? What about if you're snowed in, flooded or otherwise unable to leave the building - do you have enough supplies to keep everyone safe for a given number of days?

When creating and updating your emergency plans, be sure to take these and other important contingencies into account. Few things would be worse than having a carefully thought-out response plan only to have it rendered useless by a circumstance you didn't foresee or plan for. It may seem like extra work up front, but it can go a long way toward saving infrastructure, money and maybe even lives later on.

Stay connected

Consider these disaster response tips to ensure your facility is prepared In some cases, you may not be aware of an impending disaster until it's already upon you and your facility. Communities often have more resources dedicated to emergency awareness and communication than an individual facility, and it's crucial that you take advantage of these resources. 

Similarly, make sure you know how you're going to communicate while you're in the midst of a given situation. Do your building's occupants have a reliable way to communicate with each other and with you in the event of a power outage? What about contacting emergency services? Fortunately, many of these issues can be greatly augmented through mobile technology like Crisis Plan by FacilityDude. 

Work with the professionals

Local emergency services will likely play an essential role in your facility's recovery plan. Be sure that you communicate with these professionals not just during an emergency, but before anything has happened as well. They can help you confirm what evacuation routes you should take, as well as who to contact in a given situation. Cultivating a relationship with emergency services is a great way to ensure that you and your facility stay on the radar if an emergency occurs.

These services can also be tremendous sources of information in the preparation stages. Many organizations provide free information on what you should include in a disaster response kit, for example. If you end up unable to leave your building for a certain period of time due to weather, they can help you determine what you need to keep everyone in your facility safe.

Work out the details

Be sure to work the details out with your maintenance team. Do you have a backup facility you will all regroup at? What about potentially sensitive information such as employee records - are there any backups of those in the event any hard copies on-site are lost?

Part of effective disaster response is planning for the recovery phase as well, so it's just as important to work out what steps you'll take once the immediate danger has passed as it is to know how you'll respond in the face of an imminent threat.

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