Emergencies and disasters can have a dramatic impact on a business’s infrastructure, when they are natural, manmade, big or small. Not properly planning for any type of emergency can affect profitability, employee safety and can ultimately impact an organization’s ability to recover and reopen. In fact, an astounding 40% of small businesses are unable to reopen after a major natural disaster. In a state where earthquakes can happen at any moment and wildfires are often deadly, it’s crucial for business owners to plan for the worst while hoping for the best.
Before you can put your emergency preparedness plan together, it’s important to know what to plan for. California business owners probably don’t have to worry about a category 5 hurricane heading their way, but there are plenty of other hazards, both natural and manmade, that do need to be addressed. Below are seven of the top emergencies that affect California businesses.
1. Active Shooter. No employer wants to think about the possibility of an active shooter entering their business, but it’s a real possibility. It’s incredibly hard to predict this type of emergency, but it’s something that should be considered when creating policies for employees and visitors entering and leaving the building.
2. Earthquakes. While earthquakes can really happen anywhere, California is one of the states designated as a higher risk area. Earthquakes are unpredictable and can happen at any time with a wide range of severity. This is one area where business owners shouldn’t wait until there’s a threat to prepare. Proper earthquake readiness is necessary to protect the safety of your employees and includes having a safe area near the worksite to meet and having food and emergency supplies at the ready in case emergency services aren’t immediately available.
3. Wildfires. A wildfire can be caused by both humans and nature, and can occur in a variety of different landscapes including forests, grasslands and prairies. Because of the dry climate in California, wildfires can quickly spread from wilderness areas to residential and commercial areas without much warning, stranding people in their homes or at their place of work.
4. Floods. While many people don’t associate flooding with California, it can and does happen. When it does happen, it can be especially devastating due to lack of preparation and awareness. California saw a series of major floods in the early months of 2017, which caused over $1 billion of damage to just the roads and highways alone. Just last week, the Russian River in Northern California flooded several towns to the west of Sacramento, resulting in mandatory evacuations and even one death.
5. Extreme Heat. Out of all weather-related hazards, extreme heat often results in the highest number of annual deaths. Extreme heat is typically defined as several days of unusually high heat/humidity, and during an extreme heat weather event evaporation is slowed making the body have to work extra hard to maintain its normal temperature. Extreme heat can also occur suddenly, and workers who are normally outdoors in the sun may not notice the effects until it’s too late and heat stroke sets in.
6. Landslides and Debris Flow. Californians are familiar with landslides – when masses of earth or rock move down a slope – and they may also have similarly experienced debris flow, which is more of a “river” of debris caused by oversaturation. These occur most commonly after a large storm, and the effects are often worse after wildfires have removed a lot of the vegetation that normally helps hold the ground together.
7. Power Outages. An extended power outage may seem like a mundane emergency, but it can cause a lot of issues for businesses. The longer that a business is without power, the more money they are likely losing. For businesses that serve food, spoilage can set in quickly and can add additional challenges to overcome before reopening.
Understanding the types of threats that can affect your business is key when creating disaster preparedness plans. It’s also important to undergo a risk assessment to get a clearer picture of how a disaster will affect your specific business, as well as what kind of recovery costs can be anticipated. Once a plan has been created, employers should ensure that all employees are aware of all emergency procedures, whether through emergency preparedness classes, a company-wide meeting or through information in their employee handbook, as well as having them posted in a common area for review.
Emplicity understands that HR Outsourcing should be simple and meaningful. As a Professional Employer Organization (PEO), we strive to be a great partner in supporting your business. If you would like to request more information on how we can assist your needs, please reach out to us at 877-476-2339. We are located in California – Orange County, Los Angeles, and the greater Sacramento and San Francisco area.
NOTICE: Emplicity provides HR advice and recommendations. Information provided by Emplicity is not intended as a substitute for employment law counsel. At no time will Emplicity have the authority or right to make decisions on behalf of their clients. Emplicity provides HR advice and recommendations. Information provided by Emplicity is not intended as a substitute for employment law counsel. At no time will Emplicity have the authority or right to make decisions on behalf of their clients.