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Disaster Management: Employee Training for Safe and Effective Response

Disasters can hit anytime, anywhere. And when you own a small business, it's critical to have a plan to keep your customers, your employees, your business and yourself as safe as possible. You should also train your employees ahead of time, so they know how to respond safely and effectively.

Group of workers attending a meeting.

Create an emergency response plan

Your plan should take into account the different types of emergencies that can occur ━ fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes ━ and offer instructions on how to respond in each situation. provides several toolkits you can use for this. You need to provide emergency communications devices ━ loaded smartphones, hand-crank radios ━ and a list of emergency numbers for authorities, businesses and employees' family members who need to be contacted. You also need emergency supplies, including some form of backup power source, as the Insurance Information Institute advises.

Determine what training each employee needs

Not all employees will need the same amount of training, so determine who needs general emergency response training and who can shoulder more responsibility ━ for example, managers and other supervisors.

According to, all employees need to be trained in life safety and loss prevention programs. This involves factors such as lockdown, shelter in place and evacuation. You should perform exercises to ensure everyone is able to respond quickly and effectively. Ensure everyone knows where the emergency communications devices, numbers and supplies are. Additionally, make sure your employees know how to operate the generator, so you'll have a source of power.

You should create an emergency response team that's responsible for complying with emergency regulations ━ for example information technology security ━ as well as administering first aid, CPR and automated external defibrillator treatment if necessary.

It's also advisable to create a business continuity team that's responsible for handling all measures that are necessary to get your business up and running again, such as setting up operations at a different location and communicating with partners and customers. Note that an emergency can quickly destroy all of your hard copy and electronic files. That's why the IRS advises backing up your data on a regular basis. If you do so, your employees won't need to worry about saving data when they're in a life-threatening situation.

Train new employees

Make sure that all new employees are properly trained in emergency preparedness as a part of the onboarding process. They should understand their own roles, as well as those of others, and they should know where evacuation routes, shelter and emergency supplies are.

Emergency preparedness is critical to the longevity of your business. Take the time to inform your employees about your emergency response plan, instruct them regarding their roles in it, and review the plan once a year.

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