Your Solution for SMART Response Plans

Response Plan Tip: Ensure Processes and Communications Equipment Align

Posted on Thu, Nov 27, 2014

The fastest way to turn an incident, crisis, or emergency into a prolonged disaster is to experience a communications breakdown.  In order to minimize impacts and rapidly respond to circumstances, companies must ensure communication processes and procedures are clearly defined and understood, and associated equipment is functional.

While every effort should be made to train employees on response processes and procedures for probable emergency scenarios relevant to your operations, training employees on initial site-specific responses included in your response plan is fundamental to your emergency management program. The need to swiftly communicate accurate and pertinent information is common to all emergency scenarios, despite operational function. Information, at a minimum should include:

  • Contact number to initiate report and response needs
  • Location of incident
  • Type of incident (medical, fire, oil spill, etc.)
  • Casualties or injured parties

The initial responder, or first person on-scene, will be the first initiator of emergency communications. While this individual may have extensive training and response knowledge, most likely, the initial responder is not specifically trained for response. As a result, all employees should be trained in initial response processes, procedures, and communication expectations.  Individuals who demonstrate a clear understanding of the communication plan, emergency procedures, and assigned responsibilities are better prepared to implement effective communication and initiate a streamlined response. Detailed information should be readily available to facility personnel to ensure all emergency managers, response personnel, and applicable agencies (ex. National Response Center) are quickly notified in the event of an incident.

Once initial response processes and procedures are established, ongoing communication is critical in order to assess, direct, and respond to the incident. Facilities must have standardized and exercised modes of communicating.  The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) describes standard communications response equipment options that may be used during an incident, emergency, or disaster. The following options range from basic to state-or the art technology:

Runners: Individuals carrying written messages from one location to another. 

LIMITATIONS:

  • Distance and time
  • Requires written information for accuracy
  • Availability
  • Requires familiarity with the area

Landline telephones: Analog and digital phones connected by physical lines. (Note: Some telephone service providers utilize modems for connecting landlines. Check with your individual service provider)

LIMITATIONS
  • Not mobile
  • System overloads easily
  • Network susceptible to physical damage
  • May be affected by power failure

Cellular/Smart phones: Mobile digital phones connected by signals transmitted by cellular towers. Capable of transmitting short messaging service (SMS). In many cases text messages will go through when your call may not.

LIMITATIONS
  • Towers may fail due to power outage or damage
  • System overloads easily
  • Requires knowledge of responder phone numbers
  • May be dependent on landlines

Satellite Phone: Mobile phones that use signals transmitted by satellites.  If other phone systems are down, can only communicate locally with other satellite phones  

LIMITATIONS

  • Expensive
  • Requires visibility to sky or building with compatible antenna
  • Potential diminished voice quality or latency

Two-way radios: Handheld, mobile, or base-station radios used for communicating on radio frequencies; many require licensure by the FCC. Below are a few examples of the different two-way radio types as described by FEMA:

RELIABILITY:

  • Family Radio Service (FRS): Have a very limited range; useful only for intra-team communications
  • General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS): Have a greater range than FRS radios and signals can be improved with antennas and repeaters
  • Multiple-Use Radio Service (MURS): Only 5 channels available for use
  • Citizen Band (CB): Have 40 channels and affordabl

LIMITATIONS:

  • Family Radio Service (FRS): Cannot alter radio (no antennas) = limited range
  • General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS):
    • Requires a license (one per family)
    • Intended for family use
    • Some business licenses are grandfathered
  • Multiple-Use Radio Service (MURS): More expensive than FRS/GMRS radio
  • Citizen Band (CB):  Limited range

Computer-based communications: Information may be transmitted over the Internet or with runners via USB drives

LIMITATIONS:
  • May require internet connectivity
  • Requires specific hardware
  • Requires power source for long use although solar power options are becoming increasingly available and affordable.

In the event Internet connectivity is terminated or inaccessible, emergency managers must have alternative means to access plans. Redundant data-centers, scheduled downloads, and ancillary security measures must be a part of any emergency management program based on an intranet or cloud.

Internet availability enables additional emergency communications through social media. From communicating facility closures in the event of bad weather or evacuation orders as a result of a hazardous spill, greater Internet accessibility allows for companies to streamline emergency communications to a wider audience with minimal administrative effort.

NOTE: The National Response Center (NRC) is the sole federal point of contact for spills of hazardous materials. NRC, which is staffed on a 24-hour basis, was given the responsibility of receiving incident reports involving hazardous materials regulated under the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act for the transportation of hazardous materials (49 CFR 171), for natural gas and other gases transported by pipeline (49 CFR 191), and for liquids transported by pipeline (49 CFR 195). All facilities involved in these activities should include the National Response Center reporting number, (800) 424-8802, in the notification section of an emergency response plan.

For a free download on Best Pratices for Crisis Management, click the image below:

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Tags: Power Failure, Resiliency, Communication Plan, Social Media, Disaster Response, Notification Systems

Top TRP Corp Emergency Preparedness Blogs of 2013

Posted on Mon, Jan 13, 2014

As we begin 2014, we would like to share our subscribers’ top ten TRP blogs from 2013.  While the topics vary, the goal of each blog is to provide resources to assist in developing effective emergency, crisis, and business continuity plans and programs. It is our hope that emergency and crisis managers, first responders, and safety professionals can utilize these blogs to advance their emergency management and business continuity efforts in 2014.

TRP’s Top Ten 2013 Blogs include:

10. Managing Multiple Incidents Through ICS: Managing a single incident can be challenging. Managing multiple incidents demands an organized, coordinated, and thoroughly exercised response plan. This blog explore the use of the Incident Command System (ICS), a common organizational structure designed to aid in incident management activities, and core concepts that can greatly assist in the overall response of a multiple incident or crisis event.

9. Office Building Emergency Management and Emergency Action Plans. In order to prioritize safety, office building management should include a customized Health, Safety, and Environmental (HSE) program that complies with pertinent regulatory requirements, and includes site-specific safety and evacuation procedures. This blog specifically highlights common office building health and safety hazards, and emergency action plan components required by OSHA.

8. Success, Failure, and the Emergency Response Exercise: Prompted by a LinkedIn discussion on the effects of specifically designing an exercise to match response capabilities, this blog identifies suggested exercise objectives that participants should comprehend and demonstrate during the course of an exercise.

7. Emergency Management Planning and Social Media: This blog discusses the ever increasing and merging communications applications that are creating a new outlet within emergency management. With pertinent information readily available through various sources, the decision-making process and applicable response can be accelerated, potentially minimizing the effects of the incident. However, companies must develop processes for monitoring social media content during an incident in order to collect accurate real-time intelligence and respond accordingly.

6. The Incident Action Plan Begins with Incident Command: This blog details the benefits of incorporating the Incident Command System (ICS) into an emergency management program and highlights Incident Commander response priorities and responsibilities. At the onset of an incident, Incident Commanders can utilize ICS elements to develop incident-specific strategic objectives and facilitate necessary response procedures.

5. Twitter Hashtags in Emergency Management: With the surge of social media usage, companies are engaging in and utilizing the boundless information available from interactive platforms such as Twitter. This blog highlights the use of the Twitter hashtag tool (#), which allows readers to connect to specific topics or incidents, and identifies some of the most popular hashtags used for emergency management related issues.

4. The Tabletop Exercise and Emergency Response Plan: Tabletop exercises can often reveal shortcomings in preparedness planning and responder knowledge. The blog identifies the minimum components necessary for a tabletop exercise and ways to utilize its results to improve the effectiveness of a preparedness program.

3.Extended Power Outages Require Business Continuity Planning: As active weather patterns continue to course across the United States, residents and businesses in the path of these extreme storms are often plagued with power outages. This blog discusses the need for specific response plans and emphasizes the urgency to evaluate Business Continuity Plans.

2.Ten Safety Training Videos to Bolster Emergency Management: Companies often use safety training videos to supplement required instruction for specific industries, roles, or equipment usage. This blog offers a sampling of free videos available to supplement safety training. (As with any free safety resource available on the Internet, information should always be verified for accuracy.)

1.. Smartphone Apps for Emergency Managers and First Responders: With pertinent information readily available, the decision-making process can be improved and the response can be accelerated, potentially minimizing the effects of the incident. This "Smart Phone Apps" blog highlights a variety of free and low-cost smartphone apps that can assist EHS managers and first responders.

For a free download of a generic Response Procedures Flow Chart, click the image below:

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Tags: Power Failure, Response Plans, Training and Exercises, Safety, Social Media, BCM

Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Winter Storms

Posted on Thu, Oct 17, 2013

Meteorologists typically release the first projections of the upcoming winter forecasts in early September. Long-range seasonal predictors are regional generalities based on a combination of historical patterns and current scientific evidence. However, despite the potential season forecast, it only takes one significant winter weather event at your facility to disrupt business operations and affect profitability.

Winter storms cause power outages, dangerously cold temperatures, supply disruptions, safety hazards that endanger the lives of people, and potentially impair access to key infrastructure. In 2011, a snowstorm hit Atlanta during the college football BCS national championship. Some businesses experienced supply chain disruptions, while others had to close altogether. One restaurant /pub owner estimated the storm cost him an estimated $50,000 in losses. The lessons learned included purchasing a generator, securing nearby hotel rooms for staff to eliminate staffing shortages, and evaluating supply chain availability.

Scenario-specific emergency response and business continuity plans can minimize operational downtime in the event of severe winter weather. The ability to identify, prioritize, and respond to natural phenomena is critical for preventing the potential for large financial losses and damage to reputation.

For business continuity planning purposes, a business impact analysis (BIA) should be conducted prior to seasonal risks.  A BIA can identify key business process that may be interrupted during a natural disaster.  Once these processes are identified, mitigation strategies can be implemented to reduce the potential  impact resulting from loss of facilities, infrastructure, personnel, or supply chain.

For predictable naturally occurring events, such as the onslaught of winter weather, planning can be accomplished before the incident occurs. Such planning should include, but 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

Understand the following winter storm warning terms:

  • Winter weather advisory: expect winter weather conditions to cause inconvenience and hazards.
  • Frost/freeze warning: Expect below-freezing temperatures.
  • Winter storm watch: Be alert; a storm is likely.
  • Winter storm warning: Take action; the storm is in or entering the area.
  • Blizzard warning: Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snowdrifts, and life-threatening wind chill.

Business owners and/or response teams should incorporate the following concepts into planning for winter weather: 

  • Monitor news and weather reports on television or the radio (with battery backup)
  • Alert employees or others on-site that severe weather is approaching and communicate expectations
  • Be aware of the dangers posed by ice and snow falling from equipment and buildings, mediate if possible
  • Identify dangers posed by cold weather on exposed piping (hazardous releases, flooding, etc)
  • Prepare and insulate exposed piping
  • Contract snow removal services or obtain the necessary equipment (snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt, tire chains, etc.)
  • Ensure that company vehicles have a full tank of gas and are functioning properly (heater, deicing fluid, antifreeze levels, windshield wipers)
  • Ensure flashlights are in proper working order and have additional batteries on site.
  • Monitor ice and snow accumulation on any onsite tanks, sheds, or buildings
  • Obtain generators, if necessary, to re-power facilities or necessary equipment
  • If appropriate, leave water taps slightly open so they drip continuously to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Understand and implement cold weather response techniques  for product spills, as released product may flow under ice or snow.
  • Establish and maintain communication with personnel
  • Consider limiting vehicle traffic
  • Maintain building temperature at acceptable levels and understand safety measures if using space heaters.
  • Notify supervisors if facility(s) loose power or is otherwise unable to operate
For a free download of Response Procedures Flowchart, click the image below:
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Tags: Climate Change, Power Failure, Business Continuity, Supply Chain, Extreme Weather, Business Disruption

Extended Power Outages Require Business Continuity Planning

Posted on Mon, Jan 28, 2013

In October 2012, nearly 8.1 million homes and businesses lost power, many for an extended time period, due to Hurricane Sandy. According to Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) spokesman Ron Morano, the storm created the worst damage in the company’s history. As a result, power restoration was slowed and businesses across the northeast region suffered.

"In New Jersey alone, nearly 19,000 small businesses sustained damage of $250,000 or more with total business losses estimated at $8.3 billion as a result of Hurricane Sandy, about 1.0 percent of New Jersey Gross State Product in 2012." Economic Impact of Hurricane Sandy - Potential Economic Lost and Gained in New Jersey and New York (U.S. Department of Commerce).

When infrastructure disruptions occur, such as an extended power failure, companies operations can endure significant challenges and potential financial losses. If operations, equipment, or supplies are affected, companies must seek alternate ways to remain operational, or as in Hurricane Sandy’s case, attempt to recover quickly. A business continuity plan (BCP) is a vital tool that prepares organizations for incidents that could impair their ability to operate as a result of temporary or permanent loss of infrastructure, critical staff, software, and vital records.

Although Sandy’s vast devastation was unprecedented, companies must ensure precautionary actions are in place to sustain the viability of their business. By pre-identifying critical processes and the equipment necessary to function, alternatives can be explored and a BCP can be developed.  The process of creating and implementing a BCP may reduce the impacts of infrastructure disorder and associated supply chain disruptions. Business continuity preparedness can prevent unnecessary downtime, increased recovery efforts, and protect the financial bottom line.

Severe_Weather_Planning_TRP.jpg
Identifying critical utility and technology related operations is the first step in mitigating and combating the potential threat of an extended power outage. Possible critical utility and technology involved in business operations include, but are not limited to:

  • Utilities including electric power, gas, water, hydraulics, compressed air, municipal and internal sewer systems, wastewater treatment services
  • Security and alarm systems, elevators, lighting, life support systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, electrical distribution system.
  • Manufacturing and pollution control equipment
  • Voice and data communication systemsand computer networks
  • Air, highway, railroad, and waterway transportation systems

Once utility and technology related operations are identified, the following planning considerations should be taken into account in order to safeguard critical systems and develop an effective business continuity plan:

  • Determine the impact of service disruptions and mitigate if possible (generators, fuel, relocating inventory, back up suppliers etc.)
  • Ensure that key safety and maintenance personnel are thoroughly familiar with all building systems, such as alarms, utility shutoffs, elevators, etc.
  • Establish company-wide computer security, download, and backup practices in order to secure technologies and communications networks.
  • Establish procedures for restoring systems.
  • Establish preventive maintenance schedules for all systems and equipment.

Updating a BCP should be a continuously evolving process capturing changes in personnel, contractors, stakeholders, operations, and equipment. Each department should evaluate current critical processes, mitigate identified deficiencies, and update the plan as necessary. In the event of extended power loss, a BCP should  identify recovery time objectives for the following concepts:

Supply Chain: Pre-selected alternate resources to ensure consistent delivery and continued operations in the event primary suppliers are not able to provide required services.

Essential Personnel: Identify necessary minimum staffing levels to remain on-site during a storm (if deemed safe) and for recovery operations. As the storm passes, ensure staff, contractors, and suppliers understand their individual responsibilities and recovery time objectives.

Equipment needs: Identify and procure necessary equipment, and establish processes for continued operations and recovery. This will prevent unnecessary downtime and additional recovery efforts after a hurricane.  Relocating equipment or inventory prior to a storm may be an option. After a storm, repairing and replacing these essentials can be slow, labor intensive, potentially costly.

Data and computer needs:  Companies may examine data center outsourcing to ensure continuity and accessibility. Identifying the procedural details of computer backups, data restoration methods, and minimum software requirements are crucial to re-establish technology related critical business processes.

Communication needs: Clear and effective communication channels must remain available in order to disseminate information to employees, assess and relay damage, and coordinate a recovery strategy. A mass notification system may assure a reliable method to communicate to key individuals, company employees, or an entire client base.

No storm preparedness, whether for a hurricane or blizzard, goes wasted. Every “close call” storm provides a real-time test of the effectiveness of the preparedness processes. No matter how far a storm veers off path, company facilities, employees, and coordinating responders can gain planning insight by the act of initiating business continuity plans.

Receive TRP's Sample Response Procedure Flow Chart:

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Tags: Power Failure, Facility Management, Data Backup, Business Continuity Plan, Business Disruption

Cutting Red Tape In Emergency Response with Proper Planning

Posted on Thu, Nov 08, 2012

Sandy, the super storm and hurricane of October 2012, created havoc on the northeast and mid- Atlantic coast. The storm brought ashore record setting low pressures, historical storm surges and flooding, destructive winds, copious amounts of rain, and blizzard conditions. The effects of the storm were varied and widespread. Typical daily events and critical infrastructures, including finance, transportation, utilities, and healthcare were affected by the storm. The scale of destruction was immense and, as a result, recovery efforts were tedious and widespread.

Improving disaster response capabilities requires coordination across all levels of government and the private and nonprofit sectors. U.S President, Barack Obama, emphasized the need for swift recovery efforts and instructed federal agencies to be flexible and proactive. "There's no excuse for inaction at this point. I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they're needed as quickly as possible. I want to repeat, my message to the federal government: no bureaucracy; no red tape. Get resources where they're needed as fast as possible, as hard as possible, and for the duration.".

Often in the aftermath of an incident, processes, procedures, and emotions get in the way of an effective response. A lengthy recovery process prolongs human suffering, drives up costs, and impacts companies’ sustainability. It is the goal of emergency planning to minimize response deficiencies in order to recover to normal operations. Pre Planning and exercising interoperability responses can minimize bureaucratic surprises and result in a more effective and timely response.

In 2006, Hurricane Katrina exposed many of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s weaknesses. Companies should take the lessons learned from Katrina and eventually, Sandy, and apply them to enhance their own emergency preparedness program. Communications with external agencies, contractors, medical responders, or other parties must begin in the planning phase of emergency management.  This interoperability planning should also extend to state or federal agencies, local jurisdictions, and suppliers or vendors. Communication is crucial for those contacts who do not participate directly in exercises. Communications left to the aftermath of an incident may result in disorganized and delayed responses.

The Department of Homeland Security identifies 5 elements that can improve emergency response interoperability.

  • Obtain leadership commitment from all disciplines (EMS, Fire, and Police Departments).
  • Foster collaboration across disciplines through leadership support.
  • Interface with policy makers to gain leadership commitment and resource support.
  • Establish relationship sustainability through ongoing communications
  • Plan and budget for ongoing updates to systems, procedures, and documentation.
  • Ensure collaboration and coordination.

Two-way communication cannot begin at the onset of a crisis situation. Companies need to build a response framework that will support comprehensive, collaborative, and coherent preparedness, and implement the concept of sustainability into emergency management endeavors.

A good response framework is only useful if response leadership from collaborative associations is able and willing to make flexible and intuitive decisions in efforts to advance a response. Drills and exercises involving both internal and external responders, including leadership from applicable government agencies, will allow for a better understanding of:

  • Response parameters and protocols
  • Necessary response efforts for the incident
  • Required documentation
  • Prescribed equipment for an effective incident response
  • Personnel requirements
  • Ongoing mitigation measures to minimize threats
  • Viable solutions for unusual scenarios

Collaborative planning and exercise efforts may validate participants’ positions, align priorities and common interests, and motivate participants to seek compromise for the good of an effective response. These preparedness and planning actions may consequently, “cut the red tape”.

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

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Tags: Power Failure, Incident Action Plan, Resiliency, Supply Chain, Disaster Response, National Preparedness, Red Cross

Resource Management in Emergency Planning and Response

Posted on Mon, Jul 16, 2012

Managing personnel, specialized teams, equipment, and supplies are an intricate part of response planning and incident management, yet these critical details are often overlooked. Resource management procedures should be included as an element of a response plan and have the flexibility and depth to address uncertainties associated with responses.

Effectively incorporating company, contracted, and public resources into an emergency management program can streamline a multifaceted response, resulting in a more effective and timely effort. If managed properly, available resources can also reduce potential business continuity vulnerabilities.

According to NIMS' Resource Management Planning, resources typically fall into seven general groupings:

  • Personnel: Includes emergency operations center staff and onsite responders.
  • Facilities: Includes emergency operations center, field command posts, and staging areas.
  • Equipment: Includes equipment required for PPE, personnel support, communications, response operations, and emergency operations center support.
  • Vehicles: Includes automobiles, trucks, buses, and other vehicles required for transportation, emergency medical, and response operations.
  • Teams: Includes specially trained and equipped responders and management personnel.
  • Aircraft: Includes aircraft for surveillance, medical evacuation, or cargo transportation operations.
  • Supplies: Includes a wide range of materials from potable water to plywood.

NIMS recommends the following resource management practices be incorporated into an response plan for implementation during future response operations:

1. Identify: Identify what equipment is needed, where and when it is needed, and who will be receiving or using it. Some resources will be specific to one risk or consequence, while others may be useful for multiple risks or consequences.

2. Procure: Take into account lead-time required for resources that cannot be obtained locally.

3. Mobilize:  Plan transportation and logistics needs based on response priorities and equipment requirements to ensure timely arrival of necessary equipment.

4. Track and report:  Identify specific location of resources on a continual basis in order to assist staff in preparing to receive resources, to ensure safety and security of equipment and to ensure efficient use, coordination, and movement of equipment.

5. Recover and demobilize: Ensure timely demobilization of equipment, including decontamination, disposal, repair, and restocking activities, as required.  This step pertains to both expendable and nonexpendable resources.

6. Reimburse:  Ensure that a mechanism is in place to track costs and provide timely payment for incident expenses, including contractors, equipment, transportation services, and other costs.  .

7. Inventory and Replenish: Utilize a resource inventory system or equipment checklist to assess the availability of on-site equipment and supplies. Procure additional resources as needed to be prepared for future events. Consider lessons learned from previous responses to assess on-site requirements.

Through concepts listed TRP's free downloaded corporate hurricane checklist, companies can begin to understand the resources necessary to respond to a significant weather event. 

TRP Corp Hurricane Checklist

Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Power Failure, Redundant Systems, Training and Exercises, Event Preparedness

Come Rain, Sleet, Snow, or Hail...Are you Prepared for an Emergency?

Posted on Thu, Jan 19, 2012

A few months ago, AccuWeather came out with its long range United States’ forecast through the winter 2011/2012. The prediction was that cold and snowy weather will prevail across a large section of the country. Although snow amounts are predicted to be less than what was experienced last year, ice could be potential problem as far south as Alabama and Georgia. But despite predictions, companies should be prepared to deal with whatever unusual weather events may occur.

Depending on a facility’s specific latitude and longitude, a site-specific risk analysis for severe weather should be conducted for each facility, and plans should be prepared accordingly. Specific weather planning checklists can be developed for blizzards, floods, ice, tornadoes, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Despite the weather situation, many common best practices can be implemented into a weather planning checklist including, but not limited to the following action items:

  • Monitor news and weather reports on television or radio (with battery backup)
  • Alert personnel  on-site that severe weather is approaching and communicate specific expectations and responsibilities
  • Be aware of the site specific dangers posed by wind, ice, snow falling from equipment and buildings, and mediate if possible
  • Identify product release dangers posed by heavy snow, flooding, wind, or ice falling on exposed piping
  • If applicable, insulate and protect any exterior water lines or piping
  • Identify and contract companies to assist in extreme weather events, such as snow, water, or tree removal services
  • Obtain basic necessary weather-related equipment (snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt, tire chains, backup generators, cooling stations)
  • Ensure that vehicles have a full tank of gas and are functioning properly
  • Ensure flashlights are in proper working order and have additional batteries on site
  • Monitor precipitation accumulation on or around any tanks, sheds or buildings
  • If appropriate, leave water taps slightly open so they drip continuously to prevent pipes from freezing
  • Identify and understand response techniques when responding to product spills that may flow under ice or snow, or within flood waters
  • Establish and maintain communication with onsite and offsite personnel
  • Monitor or limit vehicle traffic
  • Maintain building temperature at acceptable levels and understand safety measures if using space heaters or generators
  • Notify supervisors if a power failure occurs or if a facility is otherwise unable to operate due to weather circumstances

 

For an understanding of the necessary elements in creating an effective fire pre plan, download our Fire Pre Planning Guide.

 

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Tags: Corporate Hurricane Preparedness, Earthquake Preparedness, Power Failure, Business Continuity, Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Management Program, Extreme Weather, Hurricane Preparedness, Flood Preparedness

Top Five Reasons to Use Web-Based Business Continuity Plans

Posted on Mon, Jan 09, 2012

In business continuity, the concept of identification of critical business processes and equipment is often discussed. However, the ability to access important documents is often overlooked. Some companies even choose to store emergency response plans in binders. What would you if you experienced a catastrophic loss and could not access these important documents?

Numerous companies that have business continuity plans are evolving from paper-based e plans to web-based planning systems to ensure access to critical information during an  emergency. Disasters and emergencies can instantly eliminate any trace of hard copy plans that are not properly backed-up and accessible off-site. Companies could lose access to the necessary information and tools that enable recovery of critical business processes.

A business continuity plan identifies the critical processes and how to recover these processes following loss of infrastructure. Some of these critical processes rely on specific data. By transitioning from paper-based business continuity plans to a web-based approach, companies have the ability make the plans more accessible to both internal and external stakeholders.

Some benefits of a web-based business continuity system include:

1. Efficiency: Eliminates repetitive updates of duplicate information within  multiple plans.

2. Instantaneous Updates: Revised information is immediately available to all stakeholders.

3. Accessibility of plans: In the event of an emergency, updated paper plans are typically not available from other locations. Although some companies  post electronic plans to their intranet, which  can be accessed remotely, the process of updating these plans is time-consuming and inefficient. In addition, a catastrophic event may render company servers inaccessible.

4. Superior functionality: Web-based plans can provide hyperlinks, forms libraries, simplified interfaces, and other tools designed to improve functionality for plan users.

5. Multi-purpose data: Typically, business continuity plans share common data with emergency response and other plan types. Web-based, database driven plans utilize one database to manage this information, effectively leveraging plan revision efforts to all plans that utilize that data.

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

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Tags: Power Failure, Business Continuity key points, Business Continuity, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program, Notification Systems, Information Security

Winter Weather Emergency Preparedness

Posted on Thu, Nov 03, 2011

Unusually severe weather has been experienced across the country for most of 2011. As the fall season begins to change to winter, companies across the country need to analyze their winter weather preparedness plans. As millions across the country experienced in the October snowstorm, large amounts of snow or subfreezing temperatures, as well as strong winds, and ice or sleet can halt outdoor business operations, affect safe travel, damage pipelines, and cause power outages, sometimes for days at a time.

Below is a winter weather planning checklist that can assist companies to prepare for the onslaught of winter weather.

  • Monitor news and weather reports on television or the radio (with battery backup)
  • Alert employees or others on-site that severe weather is approaching and communicate expectations
  • Be aware of the dangers posed by ice and snow falling from equipment and buildings and mediate if possible
  • Be aware of product release dangers posed by ice falling on exposed piping
  • If applicable, insulate any water lines that run along the exterior of the building(s)
  • Contract snow removal services or obtain the necessary equipment (snow shovels, ice scrapers, rock salt, tire chains, etc.)
  • Ensure that vehicles have a full tank of gas and are functioning properly (heater, deicing fluid, antifreeze levels, windshield wipers)
  • Ensure flashlights are in proper working order and have additional batteries on site
  • Monitor ice and snow accumulation on any on site tanks, sheds or buildings
  • Obtain generators, if necessary to re-power facilities
  • If appropriate, leave water taps slightly open so they drip continuously to prevent pipes from freezing
  • Prepare and insulate exposed piping
  • Understand and implement cold weather response techniques when responding to product spills as released product may flow under ice or snow
  • Establish and maintain communication with personnel in remote areas
  • Consider limiting vehicle traffic
  • Maintain building temperature at acceptable levels and understand safety measures if using space heaters.
  • Notify supervisors if facility(s) loose power or is otherwise unable to operate

Understand the following winter storm warning terms:

  • Winter weather advisory: Expect winter weather conditions to cause inconvenience and hazards.
  • Frost/freeze warning: Expect below-freezing temperatures.
  • Winter storm watch: Be alert; a storm is likely.
  • Winter storm warning: Take action; the storm is in or entering the area.
  • Blizzard warning: Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snow drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.

For tips and best practices on designing a crisis management program, download Tips for Effective Exercises.

Exercises - TRP Corp

 

 

Tags: Pipeline, Power Failure, Business Continuity key points, Emergency Preparedness, Facility Management, Emergency Management Program