The single biggest problem companies have with planning for a disaster is that they don’t plan at all, says Lucien Canton, a certified emergency manager and author of Emergency Management: Concepts and Strategies for Effective Program. Many people simply believe that a disaster could never happen to them.
But disasters do happen – earthquakes shook the Napa valley in August, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Towns in Colorado are still cleaning up the year-old mess left by floodwaters in fall 2013.
And fires are one of the most common disaster problems that business owners have to deal with, Canton says. In 2012, fires caused nearly $3 billion worth of damage to non-residential structures in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“People say, ‘Oh, I never saw that coming,’ and what I tell people is that you should have,” Canton says. “Really, you should have. There’s very little that occurs that hasn’t before. And there’s very little that occurs that there isn’t some way of anticipating it.”
But don’t look far for the tools to initiate an emergency preparedness plan, Canton says. The people who are already working for your company are often the people who can most easily be tapped for ideas, innovations and energy needed to plan a disaster response.
Identifying those people is the first step in creating an emergency management team, or at least introducing the idea of a disaster plan. Next, Canton says, look at how minor problems are solved on a day-to-day basis.
“Emergency preparedness really has to be just part of how you do business,” he says. “If something goes wrong with your business that day, how do you handle that? Why wouldn’t that work in a major disaster – or why would it work?”
Read more about disaster planning, featuring case studies from distributor BellSimons and manufacturer Niagara Lubricants.