By Ben Day, Business Safety Consultant
Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Flooding. The list of potential weather disasters for any business is a scary one. But if you have insurance, you’re covered. Right?
How will you pay your employees with a crippled business and no revenue. And, here’s the biggie for pet care facilities that insurance cannot take care of, where will you house the animals you care for if your facility is, if not completely destroyed, at least temporarily unusable? Do you have an Emergency Action Plan? If not, put one in place. Now.
September is National Preparedness Month and there is no better time to get prepared. Hurricane season is on the horizon and, if last winter is any indication, more dangerously cold weather could be just ahead.
Although there are many emergency situations to consider, the following provides a start for preparing for weather disasters.
Designate Your Emergency Leaders and Locations
Starting today, designate a team member responsible for monitoring weather updates to communicate to the rest of the staff.
Clearly identify to the staff the person with the authority to begin an evacuation so there is no question who is in charge.
Before disaster hits, you should already have identified an alternative location to take your animals if your building is destroyed or rendered temporarily unusable.
Put It In Writing and Keep Your Policies Safe
Make sure you have a crystal clear Communication Plan in place with current phone numbers to inform both your clients and staff of the situation with specific instructions for the next step in recovery.
Keep those insurance policies in a handy place for retrieval so when you are in a hurry you will not need to search for them.
Organize your “Survival Gear”
What will you need to evacuate a pet care facility? Start with:
As IBPSA has discussed before, make sure your owner contact information and related pet client records are always kept in a safe, off-premises location either by storing “in the cloud” or by regular back-up to a separate drive kept at separate location.
Don’t forget planning for the “unique” pets that may be in your care at the time a weather disaster strikes:
Train and Drill: Real World, Real Time Preparation
Written policies and lists must be just part of your Emergency Action Plan. So you and your staff are truly prepared should disaster strike, you must take the time to train and drill for potential emergencies.
Your designated weather monitor should have the information you need to advise of a possible hurricane.
As we know, even if only from watching the news, tornadoes develop quickly, so you must be prepared in advance.
As we learned this past spring in Texas, stunning, historic and deadly floods happen in a flash.
As we learned last year on the East Coast and in other parts of the country, winter weather can strike with a vengeance, so get ready now.
The best outcome of taking the time to get prepared now and create an Emergency Action Plan is that, ultimately, there is no emergency. We all hope and pray for no weather disasters, but taking the time to prepare is never wasted time. A tornado can form and level an entire town in mere minutes. A flash flood can rip through a business and destroy it in a flash. This past spring a business near downtown Austin, Texas, released the footage from their security cameras that shows exactly how quickly disaster can strike. But this was a restaurant that was closed, not filled with helpless animals. You can watch the video here. Now, close your eyes and envision those tables and chairs as kennels with pets trapped inside.
Get prepared. Now.
For more in-depth preparedness planning, IBPSA offers an Emergency Preparedness Plan exclusively for members in our online store. The expanded document includes a sample written “Emergency Plan For Off-site Evacuation” plus much more. To purchase and download now, visit the IBPSA member online-store here.