Natural Disaster Series: Planning Is Key

Part 1 of this series discussed three initial steps you can take to begin your natural disaster preparation plan. In this post, you will be introduced to three key plans that can help you, your employees, and your facility quickly respond to an impending natural disaster. 

“What?! More plans?” you groan. Not to worry, much of the information you’ll need for your natural disaster plan is already available in your emergency response plans and evacuation plans. It is best to pull that information out and put it in a stand-alone natural disaster plan so getting to it is quick and easy—you don’t want to be pouring through three other plans to find the natural disaster information you desperately need.

Every business needs to establish the emergency communications procedures to be used during a crisis. Identify an emergency communications coordinator that will work with specific individuals responsible for communications in distinct parts of your facility. You may also want to establish an emergency alert system for your site. Cellular communications can be easily disrupted during a natural disaster, so have alternative methods of communication established. Make sure your employees are well trained on how your emergency communications plan will work.

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) provides excellent guidance and options you may want to consider using in your emergency communications plan. You can find the IBHS information here:

Know your shelter and evacuation plan. The type of natural disaster will determine if you and your employees need to evacuate the facility or shelter in-place. Include specific procedures and locations for each type of natural disaster you identify as having the potential to strike your site. Make sure your employees are trained on the correct shelter and evacuation procedures and that you provide reminder training before common natural disaster seasons arrive.

Have an emergency shutdown plan for securing materials and equipment that may be at risk during a natural disaster, such as those in outside areas or other vulnerable locations on your site. Identify equipment that needs to be powered down safely, equipment and materials that need to be secured, and utilities that may need to be shut off. If you have adequate warning of an impending natural disaster, arrange for hazardous and other regulated wastes to be removed from your facility by your waste disposal partner.

IBHS offers an “EZ-PREP™ Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning” guide for preparing an emergency preparedness and response plan, including customizable checklists for supplies and emergency preparation and response tasks.  You can download the guide and checklists here:

Next up in this series, we will present tips for getting started on your Business Continuity Plan, a must-have as you prepare for the unpredictable.