A Disaster-Preparedness Checklist

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A Disaster-Preparedness Checklist

September 21, 2015

by Teresa Riccobuono

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Advisor Perspectives welcomes guest contributions. The views presented here do not necessarily represent those of Advisor Perspectives.

Whether man-made or an act of nature, all businesses should be prepared for the unexpected.

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are approaching the anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Few have ever seen such devastation. With some acts of nature, we get warnings; with others, such as earthquakes, there are no warnings.

We need to always be prepared.

Disasters that are man-made can include fire, electrical or telephone line outages, water damage, theft, vandalism, hard drive crashes and computer viruses.

Following is a list of tips to consider to be sure you, your employees, your business and your clients are prepared and protected.


If you are worried about looters or trespassers, get security personnel on site as quickly as possible. Seek out a firm or two in advance of needing them.

If you own the building, place service calls for gas, water, and electric. If you will be the one turning off the utilities, be sure to have the necessary tools (i.e. wrench, pliers) handy.

Human safety

Most important is human safety.

Having a plan in place for a variety of situations is important. Consider the following:

  • Have a well stocked first aid kit with instructions. It should be checked regularly and mounted if possible so everyone knows where it is and so it doesn’t get misplaced.
  • Someone (or everyone) should have CPR and first aid training. This could be a good team building activity.
  • The building should have an AED, an automatic external defibrillator on site.
  • Remind your team to call 911 from a land line, when possible, not a cell phone. Cell phones connect you to Highway Patrol. You cannot count on a cell phone to help emergency responders determine the location of the caller, so always tell the 911 operator your location immediately. If your only choice is to call on a cell phone, then that becomes the most important information to relay.
  • Count how many doorways to emergency exits and how many steps between floors in case you are seeking the exit in the dark or in smoke.
  • Ask the building manager to give a tour of the emergency exit areas to become familiar with them if you work in a larger office building.
  • Store important numbers in your cell phone and hope you have cell reception.
  • Have a copy of your business continuity plan saved in your CRM and/or the cloud with a paper copy at the office and at home.
  • Make sure everyone who works in the office has one point person who is out of the area that everyone calls to check in and get updates.

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