Businesses may face increased risks during periods of public protests and civil unrest, which can threaten employees, disrupt operations, and damage property. You can help mitigate these risks by considering the following actions:
Prioritize Employee Protection
When civil unrest arises—or appears on the horizon—communicate as soon as possible with your staff to express concern, emphasize the importance of situational awareness, and provide critical guidance to ensure employee and customer safety.
- Urge employees to avoid city centers and districts where protests and riots may occur; promote virtual meetings where possible to avoid travel to these areas.
- Anticipate travel disruptions; check local news and social media for official information about road and bridge closures.
- Make sure all employees are familiar with the company’s emergency and security plans.
- Ask employees to confirm or update their contact information so they can be easily reached.
Protect Your Facilities
Property in areas with unrest faces the threat of damage, looting, and arson. The following steps can help protect your company’s facilities:
- Ask employees to remain alert for unusual activity at or near company facilities—and outline any steps they should take in response.
- Test burglar and fire protection systems, and review notification procedures with alarm companies.
- If you have security personnel, brief them on the situation and plan their response.
- Assess windows, doors, and other points of entry; provide further security, such as boarding up windows, if needed.
- Remove combustible materials from the exterior of the building.
Secure Vacant Premises
Vacant buildings are particularly vulnerable to damage during periods of civil unrest—and with the temporary closure of many offices and stores due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even more facilities than usual may be at risk. In addition, in times of civil unrest, first responders can be spread thin and may not be able to provide protection. Taking the following steps can help limit damage to vacant premises:
- Shut off gas, electrical, and waters services to the greatest extent possible, while maintaining fire suppression and alarm systems. Similarly, power down non-essential equipment and systems.
- Remove combustible materials from the building and its exterior.
- Cut back vegetation.
- Inspect vacant premises daily—only if you can do so safely—and alert police if you see signs of forced entry.
Plan for Business Continuity
Develop or update your business continuity plan to help your company resume operations quickly after any disruptions caused by civil unrest or other events. Effective business continuity plans include:
- Preparatory steps that can help limit losses.
- Emergency response procedures to take when disaster threatens.
- Recovery actions to get your business back on its feet.
As part of preparing your business for any major disruption—including civil unrest—coordinate with local law enforcement and public safety officials. Also be ready to make quick adjustments to your operations. Flexibility can pay off in protecting your business and speeding your recovery.