IBHS launches emergency preparedness, response planning guide for small businesses

Posted on April 29, 2016 Under Industry News

To help prepare small businesses in times of emergencies, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has launched the EZ-PREP, an emergency preparedness and response planning guide for small businesses.

“Unfortunately, many businesses are not prepared to respond to disasters,”said Gail Moraton, IBHS business resiliency program manager. “Small businesses can be particularly vulnerable during any kind of disaster, but especially during severe weather events, because they often have all of their operations concentrated in one location.”

The launch comes in time for America’s PrepareAthon!, a grassroots campaign created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to increase community preparedness and resilience. National PrepareAthon! Day is held twice a year, April 30 and September 30, to focus attention on the importance of creating a more resilient nation by bringing together stakeholders, communities, home and business owners, and individuals to take preparedness action. EZ-PREP provides small businesses the tools they need to take action to increase their preparedness, which is critical to community resilience.

“IBHS’ new, free EZ-PREP toolkit will allow small businesses to plan ahead so they are prepared for a variety of operational disruptions,”Moraton said. “While the highest priority is always employee safety, it also is important to reduce property damage and economic loss, which using this guide will facilitate. We know from experience that communities with home and business owners who are prepared for disasters are far more likely to suffer less damage and recover quicker than those who are not prepared.”

One of the features of EZ-PREP is that actions are organized chronologically. If a business has advance warning of an extreme weather event such as a hurricane or a severe storm front expected to hit their area, this tool walks users through what should be done five days before, 72 hours before, 24-48 hours before, during and immediately after the event, and during the recovery process.

What Businesses Should Include in an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan

  • Develop “best practices” to be taken before, during and after an emergency, along with actions to address unique challenges that are specific to each business’s facilities and operations, and the risks it faces.
  • Consider non-weather-related threats and risks in addition to severe weather plans, including those that stem from the nature of the business, such as hot work operations, metalworking and woodworking, manufacturing, flammable liquids handling and storage, plastics storage, cooking equipment, refrigeration systems, and other business-related risks of greatest concern to each business. Plan for the highest ranking threats as soon as possible.
  • Inspect the vulnerable areas of your physical property, including building envelope (roof, windows, walls and doors), surrounding premises, worksite layout and emergency systems, to ensure your plan protects the most vulnerable assets and operations.
  • Identify and implement the steps needed to protect people and property. Most storms and many other types of natural hazards can be tracked and monitored, which allows for at least some preparedness planning. However, when that is not the case, emergency planning will help make businesses more resilient and better able to withstand an event that happens without warning.
  • Use the EZ-PREP customizable checklist template to create your plan, including preparedness and recovery actions and tasks, team members’ responsibilities, alert levels, etc., to fit your business and building needs.

Open for Business-EZ (OFB-EZ) and EZ-PREP Go Hand-in-Hand

OFB-EZ is IBHS’ free business continuity tool designed to help even the smallest businesses plan for any type of business interruption so they can quickly re-open and resume operations following a disaster. With its non-technical language and streamlined layout, any business owner can create a recovery plan tailored to the individual business, providing confidence if the worst occurs.

“IBHS urges businesses to implement both OFB-EZ and EZ-PREP as part of National PrepareAthon! Day tomorrow, April 30,” Moraton said. “Having both an emergency preparedness and response plan as well as a business continuity plan in place saves time and focuses energy during emergency situations. By taking this action, business owners will help make their communities more resilient, while also protecting their employees and their business’ bottom line.”