How to Properly Develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan

Many small businesses fail to develop an emergency preparedness plan—until it's too late.

ATLANTA -- It's tough to predict when a natural or human-made disaster will affect small businesses, but one thing is certain: it's possible to develop an emergency plan that will protect workers in dangerous situations.

Bob Risk, national sales manager for Staples, gave a strong presentation that tried to eliminate any excuse for businesses to put off developing a plan. He started his presentation by detailing the history of emergency relief and plans, which goes all the way back to 1803. The rules continued to evolve in logical ways over the years, but after 9/11 everything changed.

It was in the wake of 9/11 that emergency supply and demand grew into its own industry.

As it stands, 62% of small businesses don't have emergency plans in place. It goes without saying that this number is shockingly high.

Developing one isn't too hard or time consuming, according to Risk. By evaluating your office/facility with an open mind, it can be a straightforward process to determine the best ways to evacuate and protect workers.

The plan must include all workers, even those that might be working at home. A list of supplies should be developed, as well as quantities. One of Risk's best tips was to consider crank-powered flashlights, as batteries tend to die over the years.

Train employees to use CPR, and establish who is in charge. Often calling the phenomenon "John Wayne," Risk acknowledged the likelihood that multiple employees would want to try and be heroic, even when the situation does not call for it.

Collaborating with other businesses and first responders is also worth considering, as it will help lay the foundation for bigger emergencies and evacuation logistics.

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