Your Solution for SMART Response Plans

Emergency Planning for Natural Disasters

Posted on Mon, May 16, 2011

An estimated 300 million people were affected by natural disasters in 2010. The devastation has continued in 2011 with Japan’s March’s earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the tornadoes ravaging the southeastern U.S., and massive flooding in America’s heartland. Companies must be aware of the risks posed by potential natural disasters that may impact their locations, and take sensible precautions to protect their employees, the environment, and their assets.

According to Brookings Institute’s London School of Economics, “A Year of Living Dangerously”, natural hazards by themselves are not disasters. The study states “it is their consequences and the ability of the local community to respond to them that determine whether the event is characterized as a disaster.”

While there is little we can do to prevent the occurrence of natural disasters, companies can develop emergency response plans to reduce the impact to personnel safety and property damage. Natural hazards tend to occur repeatedly in the same geographical locations because they are related to weather patterns or physical characteristics of an area. Depending on your specific risks, FEMA lists the following hazards that may be included in your emergency response plan:

  • Floods
  • Tornadoes
  • Thunderstorms and Lightning
  • Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
  • Extreme Heat
  • Earthquakes
  • Volcanoes
  • Landslide and Debris Flow (Mudslide)
  • Tsunamis
  • Fires
  • Wildfire
  • Hurricanes/Typhoons

For predictable naturally occurring events, such as a hurricane or potential flooding, planning can be accomplished before the incident occurs. Such planning should include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Conduct awareness training, including facility evacuation routes and procedures
  • Coordinate activities with local and state response agencies
  • Communicate recommended Community Evacuation routes
  • Procure emergency supplies
  • Monitor radio and/or television reports
  • Secure facility
  • Secure and backup critical electronic files

Unfortunately, some natural disasters provide little or no warning. In these instances, prior planning and training is of the utmost importance. Procedures may include, at a minimum:

  • Monitor weather services
  • Activate  alarm(s) if impact is imminent
  • Take shelter
  • Direct  personnel to report to designated areas after threat has passed
  • Account for all personnel Provide status report to Management
  • Perform other Initial Response Actions, as appropriate
  • Maintain hazard awareness
  • Conduct post-emergency evaluation and report

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Best Practices for Crisis Management.

TRP Download

Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Earthquake Preparedness, Business Continuity, Emergency Preparedness, Crisis Management, Facility Management, Hurricane Preparedness, School Emergency Planning