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Emergency planning can help businesses reduce losses caused by natural disasters and resume operations quickly. The COVID-19 pandemic may require businesses to update disaster preparedness and business continuity planning. Here are five additional steps to consider when preparing your business for a hurricane, wildfire, or other natural catastrophe.

  1. Check emergency locations for COVID-19 safety. Evaluate locations where employees may shelter or meet to coordinate your disaster response to determine if there is adequate ventilation and space for social distancing.

  2. Update emergency supply kits. Emergency supply kits include essentials such as non-perishable food, bottled water, a flashlight, and a first aid kit. The CDC now recommends including additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus—such as face masks and hand sanitizer. (For an emergency kit checklist, visit Ready.gov.)



    businessman with worker carrying a box

  3. Secure facilities safely. Help employees prevent the spread of COVID-19 as they work to secure facilities. Allow time and space to enable social distancing and provide the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the task.

  4. Anticipate limited support and services. Contractors and first responders who would normally assist in your disaster response may be delayed or unavailable because of circumstances relating to COVID-19. 

  5. Plan for remote communications. Because of COVID-19, you may need to establish a virtual rather than an onsite emergency communications center. Keep in mind that disasters may knock out phone and internet service, so consider back-up plans for communications and technology failures.
     

Include COVID-19 Safety Precautions in Your Business Continuity Plan

Businesses can speed their recovery from a natural disaster by having a business continuity plan that lays out the steps for bringing operations back online. When reviewing your plan, you may also want to consider the following:

 

  • Who is on the recovery team? If there are individuals who may be more vulnerable to the virus, consider finding alternative representatives who are at lower risk of becoming severely ill.

 

  • Do you need to take additional onsite precautions? Some preparedness or damage repair measures may require employees to be onsite. Help prevent exposure to COVID-19 by enabling social distancing and taking additional steps recommended by Safe Work Australia.

 

  • Will there be delays in getting equipment and supplies? You may need to build extra time into your planning to accommodate supply chain disruptions resulting from COVID-19. Consider storing backup equipment and supplies offsite.

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