Your Employees Aren’t Preparing for Disasters – Here’s How You Can Help

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Preparing for a disaster may not be at the top of everyone’s to-do list. Deadlines, proposals and meetings fill the day, let alone the roles and responsibilities we all encounter at home. Is crisis planning glamorous? Maybe not. Is it necessary? Absolutely.

Many organizations face disasters or emergencies every year. These incidences range from major events that simultaneously affect thousands of people (9/11 and Hurricane Katrina) to individual catastrophes (fires and flooding). Yet, less than half of organizations are confident their crisis plans meet best standards. A Firestorm survey supports that statement indicating only 49% of participants were confident in their crisis plans. The remaining 51% were unsure, or not confident.

We all know disasters can and do hit. One could strike you, your family and your organization. We’re all busy with our lives, so it’s convenient to believe it won’t happen to us. The reasons we give for not preparing:

  • “I don’t know what to do.”
  • “It will take too much time.”
  • “It’s too expensive!”
  • “What’s the point?”
  • “It won’t happen to me.”

To sum up the excuses in two words: Disaster. Denial.

In a survey conducted by the Persuadable Research Corporation, participants were asked how prepared they were at home. Fifty percent of respondents believed they were unprepared for a disaster.

When asked in further detail why,

  • 38% said preparing for a disaster never crossed their mind,
  • 48% said they lacked the money to prepare and
  • 15% said they did not have time;
  • 20% of those surveyed said they intended to “just wing it” during a disaster.Disaster Denial Notebook

Of the minority who are prepared,

  • 82% said they had a previous brush with a disaster and are now ready to act in the event of another;
  • 27% of those who were prepared for a disaster said they did it because they needed to care for other family members like children or elderly parents.

When asked whether the government would be able to provide assistance in the event of an emergency,

  • 28% were uncertain about the government’s response;
  • 30% were convinced the government was incapable of assisting.

These survey results confirm not only a lack of preparedness, but also reflect a cavalier attitude and flat-out denial of both unforeseen and predictable disturbances. This attitude pervades, even though many of us already understand that the government would be unable to provide assistance immediately in the event of an emergency. You are your own first responder.

Isn’t it time for some ‘attitude adjustment’?

Preparing for Disaster Reduces Anxiety

Like it or not, disasters are a natural part of living. Hardly a day goes by that you don’t hear about some sort of calamity befalling fellow citizens. The media invites and encourages worry and stress. In fact, because you are so bombarded with “fear messaging,” you just shut out any threat that could apply to you. You consciously avoid thinking about any potential harm that could come to you or your loved ones, despite the nonstop stream of gloom and doom. But the uneasiness is there.

Man with paper bag on head Denial MetaphorWell, with some structured preparation you can start reversing course today and turn your energy and misguided helplessness into confidence. Imagine how you would feel right now if you were fully prepared for a disaster; your plans are in place, they’ve been updated during the last six months, critical supplies are within easy reach and you know what to do. You’d be feeling confident, right?

It’s Up To You

There’s simply no way around it, preparing for a disaster is your responsibility. Although the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, your state government and your local government all plan to help in a disaster, the truth is you can’t count on them being where you need them when you need them. The same is true for your power company, land line, cell phone company, internet provider, water company or even private agencies like the Red Cross.

Each of the above entities works hard to solve problems when disaster strikes, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to address your particular problems in a timely fashion. By default, you are your own first responder…so you need to take charge now! The sooner you start the better.

Preparing Employees for a Disaster at the Workplace

Family trumps work. When a disaster strikes, if employees are not prepared at home, their focus is not going to be with the company.

Every employer must have a business continuity plan (a contingency plan for how they will continue to provide their services in the face of a major disruption) and emergency and workplace violence plans. In a March 2017 Firestorm survey, participants revealed which mode their organization would fall under if a crisis struck today. The pie chart below indicates the responses.

Creating a crisis plan is only part of the process, ensure employees know:

  • What they are expected to do if the work location is damaged and/or closed.
  • What plans have been made if the workplace has to be evacuated.
  • How to contact their employer during an emergency.
  • How to find out if and when it’s okay to return to work.
  • Require all employees to read and comprehend the company crisis communication plan.
  • Provide extra evacuation kits for each employee; stored in desks or another designated area.

Do not allow the same disaster denial attitude to permeate your organization. Prepare ahead for disaster. If you do not know where to start, contact Firestorm; we’re here to help.

Related materials:

You are Your Own First Responder – 4 Tips Toward Overcoming Disaster Denial

The Greatest Workplace Violence Threat to Employees is Denial

Quick Action and Training Saved Lives – Violence at The Ohio State University

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