Assign and define specific emergency response duties, responsibilities and points of contact at appropriate levels within your chain of command. Determine resource and equipment needs such as personal protective equipment (PPE), and other emergency equipment (AEDs, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, spill containment supplies). Specialized training of both individuals and teams may be required, if they are expected to perform adequately in an emergency. For most types of emergencies you will need a plan for alerting and evacuating staff.  Maps showing evacuation routes and assembly points are useful. A well planned and well maintained ERP is one of the best tools you can develop to ensure the safety of personnel and to minimize property damage and environmental impacts in the event of an actual emergency.
Read about the legal issues related to planning for disasters and what happens after one strikes.
From the unexpected absence of a key staff member to a natural disaster, threats to your ability to maintain your business can come from anywhere at any time. For many larger businesses, emergency and disaster recovery planning is a widely accepted and understood requirement. The goals of a business continuity plan should be to maintain maximum possible service levels during any event, and ensure that business critical departments recover from interruptions as quickly as possible. Continuity plans must be regularly tested, as unforeseen emergency situations can arise at any time.
Without adequate consideration of the risks that an organization faces, it is impossible to draw up any sort of plan to minimize their impact.
Disaster recovery and business continuity planning should be viewed as an insurance policy. This information will be used to develop recovery strategies.Recovery StrategiesIf a facility is damaged, production machinery breaks down, a supplier fails to deliver or information technology is disrupted, business is impacted and the financial losses can begin to grow. Staff with in-depth knowledge of business functions and processes are in the best position to determine what will work.
National Preparedness Month in September is an opportunity to emphasize business continuity practices for your organization.
While insurance coverage may reimburse you for lost income and expenses, planning ahead to continue operations with minimal interruption will help your business in the long term and reduce the likelihood of lost customers and broken contracts.
To keep your business – large or small – running under the stress of an emergency, work now to develop and implement a business continuity plan. Analyze the hazards – Many business owners think of fire and windstorm as their most likely work-stop scenarios. Develop an action plan – Once you pinpoint the hazards, address them through a planning process that identifies recovery and continuity procedures. Implement the plan – The best plans are adopted in writing, distributed to all associates and accompanied by a training process that allows everyone to know their roles after a disaster strikes. Seek additional resources – Two excellent resources to help get a business continuity plan off the ground include the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Small Business Administration.
Disasters can happen anywhere, and with data multiplying by the day, businesses increasingly rely heavily on email, instant messages, social media, and other electronically generated information.

Disaster recovery planning and the process of getting the business back up and running is crucial. Particularly for smaller businesses, it may not be possible to transfer production or sales to a different location, or provide the other facilities that would help to prevent a risk from impacting on the business.
Having a system that accommodates both day-to-day group communications as well as emergency messaging and can reach people via voice messages, SMS texts, emails or even social media sites can change the game: from not prepared in emergency situations, to business running as normal even in the event of factors that would normally threaten business continuity.
To read the third article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 3: Continuity Planning.
The continuity plan must include communication with stakeholders for all such emergencies, even when the risk to the business has been avoided. Recovery strategies are alternate means to restore business operations to a minimum acceptable level following a business disruption and are prioritized by the recovery time objectives (RTO) developed during the business impact analysis.Recovery strategies require resources including people, facilities, equipment, materials and information technology.
Equipping converted space with furnishings, equipment, power, connectivity and other resources would be required to meet the needs of workers.Partnership or reciprocal agreements can be arranged with other businesses or organizations that can support each other in the event of a disaster.
The Genesee County Health Department wants you to have a plan to protect your employees, lessen the impact of the emergency on your business and remain open or re-open quickly. But preparing for disaster is really a year-round activity: Up to 40 percent of businesses never fully recover from a disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The planning process should be headed by a team and engage employees and supervisors at all levels of your organization.
Revisit your business continuity plan regularly, testing and changing it depending upon your business’ changing risk exposures. After a widespread catastrophe, your employees will need to attend to their personal and family needs before they can begin to help with your business disaster recovery. An Emergency Response Plan (ERP) specifies procedures for handling potential emergency situations.
Conduct a review after each exercise, drill, and after actual emergencies to determine if there are any areas of the ERP that require improvement.
If reading these questions led to more questions than answers, your business is in need of a business continuity and disaster recovery plan. Periodic review of the agreement is needed to determine if there is a change in the ability of each party to support the other.There are many vendors that support business continuity and information technology recovery strategies. To maintain your business after a catastrophic event, it’s important to explore all the potential worst-case scenarios that may strike – and what actions you can take to minimize them.
Stay engaged with updates from FEMA and other entities to help promote personal family preparedness so your associates can develop their own plans in the event of a catastrophe. The plan should be reviewed at least annually and updated whenever weaknesses are identified.
Business Continuity Planning Process Diagram - Text VersionWhen business is disrupted, it can cost money.
Even when this is the case, the continuity plan must still address them, an earthquake proof building is of no benefit unless staff are instructed to congregate in it and other safe areas. Therefore, recovery strategies for information technology should be developed so technology can be restored in time to meet the needs of the business.

External suppliers can provide a full business environment including office space and live data centers ready to be occupied. The first step in any planning activity is to identify the potential internal and external hazards that could affect your business. I wonder if businesses that choose not to consider disaster recovery do so because they think it will not happen to them. To read the 4th article, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 4: Disaster prevention and avoidance. The worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers with sufficient knowledge of the business. Smaller businesses, for whom the impacts of any event could be significantly greater, can often overlook the necessity for disaster recovery planning. Once all worksheets are completed, the worksheets can be tabulated to summarize:the operational and financial impacts resulting from the loss of individual business functions and processthe point in time when loss of a function or process would result in the identified business impactsThose functions or processes with the highest potential operational and financial impacts become priorities for restoration. Emergency planning and disaster recovery is not simply about preparing for a terrorist attack or earthquake, being prepared for a power outage or unexpected staff absence or incident can equally help in ensuring business continuity.
The Business Continuity Resource Requirements worksheet should be completed by business function and process managers. Once you know what your risks are, what their impact might be and the likelihood of them arising, you can begin planning how to avoid or mitigate them. Completed worksheets are used to determine the resource requirements for recovery strategies.Following an incident that disrupts business operations, resources will be needed to carry out recovery strategies and to restore normal business operations. This is where the continuity plan really comes into its own, in providing detailed instructions on mitigating the effects of risks and minimizing disruption. Meetings with individual managers should be held to clarify information and obtain missing information.After all worksheets have been completed and validated, the priorities for restoration of business processes should be identified. This is why the continuity plan needs to be a living document that takes account of feedback from tests and genuine emergencies. Again, this should be an ongoing procedure with post-incident reviews feeding into improving the continuity plan.
To read the second article in this series, go to Emergency Preparedness Planning 2: Risk Assessment.
We are seeing more and more extreme weather and more than ever businesses need a solid business disaster recovery plan. Disasters are often out of our control, but you can be prepared with a backup and disaster recovery plan.
However, recent technological and information advances mean that no business, large or small, has an excuse not to be prepared.

Business continuity plan templates free download
What is risk assessment in information security
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