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Communications

The Planning Team should consider communications with employees and family, emergency responders, media, clients and neighboring businesses.

Alternate Facility/Headquarters

What if your employees are forced to evacuate?  During an emergency involving a fire, flood or explosion, it may be necessary to evacuate the entire building.  Normal services, such as electricity, water, and telephones may be nonexistent.  Under these conditions, it is necessary to have an alternate facility or headquarters to which employees can report or act as a focal point for incoming and outgoing calls.  Since time is an essential element for adequate response, the Planning Team Coordinator should select an alternate facility or headquarters for employees to report to such as a hotel, school, employees’ home or space from a neighboring business.

Equipment

Emergency communications equipment such as amateur radio systems, public address systems or portable radio units should be readily available for notifying employees of the emergency and for contacting local authorities, such as law enforcement officials, private sector charitable organizations and the fire department.

Employee/Family Considerations

Take care of your own people first.  In an emergency, your employees will need to know whether their families are okay.  Taking care of one’s loved ones is always a first priority.  Make plans for communicating with employees’ families in an emergency.  Encourage your employees to consider how they would communicate with family members in case they are separated from one another or injured in an emergency.  Ask your employees to arrange for an out-of-town contact for all family members to call and to designate a place to meet family members in case they cannot get home in an emergency.  Ensuring your employees and their families has necessary medical care, housing, food and other necessities are important.  If these things are not considered, your employees will not be able to assist with your businesses recovery efforts.

Notification/Emergency Responders

It is very important to establish a procedure for employees to report in an emergency.  Inform each and every employee of the procedure and train personnel who are assigned specific notification tasks.

Your company should prepare a list of Planning Team members to include their names, addresses, phone numbers, emails and areas of responsibilities.  Identify and list all other employees by department, their duties if an emergency occurs, equipment and supplies needed to work, their phone numbers and the order in which they should be called back to work.  This can be done by the Recovery Team Leaders.  If destruction of your business occurs, it is important to have those employees available to assist with immediate needs and operations of the business.  ALL employees should fill out an Employee Profile Form that includes their name, address, phone numbers, email, emergency contact, immediate family, written directions to their home and a drawn map to their home.

Maintain an updated list of addresses, phone numbers and emails of key personnel from outside the facility like police and fire departments, American Red Cross and your local Emergency Management Agency.  It may be necessary to notify other key personnel should an emergency occur during off-duty hours.  An updated, written list of key personnel, in order of priority, should be included as part of the Emergency Plan.

Know where to get help!  Listen for tornado, hurricane, and other severe weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service.  Determine government agencies’ notification requirements in advance.  Notification must be made immediately to local government agencies when an emergency has the potential to affect public health and safety.

Media/Clients

In an emergency, the media are a key link to the public.  Designate a trained spokesperson and an alternate spokesperson.  You may also consider setting up a media briefing area.  Consider establishing procedures for ensuring that information released is accurate and approved for public release.  Your company should maintain a list of the forms of media, such as newspaper, radio and TV, in your area including the contact names, addresses, phone numbers and emails. 

Prepare announcements that can be made over public address systems.  The following is a sample announcement.

DISASTER DAMAGE

Special Notice to our Staff/Clients/Public: (Business Name)

Announces that they are now temporarily located at ___________________________(address).  They can be reached at ___________________.  Information regarding (your business name) will be released through the local media as soon as it becomes available.

Warning

A reliable means of communications is needed to alert employees to any evacuation or other action that may be required.  Alarms must be audible or seen by all people in the building, and should have an auxiliary power supply in the event that electricity is affected. Alarms must be distinctive in sound, and a recognizable signal to evacuate the work area or perform actions designated under the Business Emergency Plan.  The employer must explain to each employee the means for reporting emergencies, such as manual pull box alarms, public address systems, or telephones.  Emergency telephone numbers should be posted on or near telephones, on employee bulletin boards, or in other conspicuous locations.

Make plans for warning persons with disabilities.  For instance, a flashing strobe light can be used to warn hearing-impaired individuals.  You should consider utilizing a “buddy system” for persons with disabilities.  Under this system, persons with disabilities would be assisted by one or more employees in his/her department. 

Familiarize all employees with procedures for responding when the warning system is activated. Establish procedures for warning customers, contractors, visitors and others who may not be familiar with the facility’s warning system.

Neighboring Businesses

You should consider contacting your neighboring businesses to let them know about your Emergency Plan.  They may be able to assist your business in the event of an emergency.

TEST YOUR FACILITY’S WARNING SYSTEM AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH!

Category:Disaster Planning

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