#WeddingPreneurs: Are you prepared if disaster strikes?
September is National Preparedness Month and I think this is the right topic for today’s WeddingPreneurs Lounge. We will discuss ways for you as a business owner to be prepared (or maybe I should say, to try to be prepared) in case of a disaster and react accordingly. Not only for you or for your staff but also for your clients and their guests.
We have been witnessing so many natural disasters in the last few weeks and it seems like a never-ending story. First, Hurricane Harvey that struck South Texas and parts of Louisiana, and some of my social media friends were personally affected. I remember checking Facebook, Twitter and also here on Periscope to make sure they were safe, and they were reporting with live videos to show the terrible damage. It was very sad.
Then, Hurricane Irma that caused catastrophic damage in the Caribbean and in the Florida Keys. Now, we have Hurricane Maria as the most devastating storm in the history of Puerto Rico and I just read the news saying the storm left the island 100% without power.
As if all this wasn’t enough, yesterday Mexico City and surrounding areas were hit by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake killing more than 200 people – and maybe the numbers will go up.
That’s not all… Did you hear about the undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 in New Zealand last night?
Really? What’s going on?
I’m shocked to hear all this horrible news and I’m scared because all these natural disasters make me think how things in life can happen at any moment and we need to be prepared as much as we can.
This was definitely not a great month to get married or to host events in those areas and I hope any of you watching this broadcast were not forced to change plans or suffered financial loss because of that.
I always suggest that my clients buy event or wedding insurance for peace of mind, primarily because of these possible disasters but also for any other incidents: anything can happen such as venues closing down, brides or grooms or the client becoming ill all of a sudden, some vendors don’t provide the services they promised, and so on. That will be the topic for another WeddingPreneurs Lounge episode.
Today I will share some tips and resources to help you as a business owner to prepare in case of an emergency.
The best resource is the official National Preparedness Month Website. This website is an excellent resource giving you a list of things to do and to prepare for your family, in your neighborhood or community, and for your business.
There you can find things like creating an emergency plan and evacuation plan (in your house or in your office or studio), ways to prepare (medications and supplies available, etc.), checklists to keep handy, and so on.
On the Ready.gov website there’s a section exclusively for businesses and it’s divided into different areas.
This is about investing in a Preparedness Program and create a Preparedness Policy to minimize the risks. This applies to big companies but you should also consider it for your business, even if it’s just you.
I’m reading the list of goals from the website and they include:
*Protecting the safety of employees
*Maintaining customer service by minimizing interruptions or disruptions of your operations
*Protecting the facility, physical assets and all electronic information
*Preventing environmental contamination, if any
*Protecting your organization’s brand, image and reputation
I would also suggest that you put together an Emergency Kit, not only for your business but mainly for your household. Keep in mind all the needs for your family and don’t forget your pets (food, etc.). As you know, when disasters strike, you might experience power outages, maybe shortage of water or food, so need to survive on your own for days. When you put together your emergency kit make sure you have everything you need for a period of at least 72 hours. There is a page on the Ready.gov website that says “Build a Kit” and that gives you a list of what you should include.
This is all about ways to prevent or minimize threats or disasters and you can do a Business Impact Analysis that can help you figure out recovery strategies. You will need to look at loss or delayed sales and income, increased expenses, and other factors in case the business should close during a disaster. This will definitely affect the health of your business.
This section tells you everything about developing a plan that can assist you and your clients and their guests during a disaster. You can learn how to create an Emergency Response Plan, a crisis communication plan, and a business continuity plan
Testing and Exercises
Here you can see how to conduct drills and evaluate your plan.
The best thing to do is to put together a formal, written plan with the procedures that will need to be followed in case of emergency during an event. Make sure you review this plan and conduct drills before the event if needed to get familiar with the procedures.
If you live and operate in an area that is subject to natural disasters you should provide each of your assistants with a copy of the plan on the event day. The plan should also include useful contact information that each person in your team can refer to in case of emergency, such as community resources (shelters or food banks, for instance)
Things that can happen are floods, fires, winter storms (these can cause delays or even cancellations of flights, maybe roads get closed, and so on)
Also, terrorism: the Department of Homeland Security’s National Terrorism Advisory System constantly releases information about threats in the United States, and you can monitor them on their website HERE.
I also mentioned earthquakes and hurricanes or tropical storms at the beginning of this broadcast. You, as the planner, should be aware of what will go on during the event and make an executive decision if the weather forecast is not good. If needed, you have to cancel or postpone the event or wedding for the safety of your clients and their guests or attendees.
If needed, check with the hosting venue to see if they also have an emergency preparedness plan in place that you can refer to.
In other words, what can be done better next time. If you experienced a disaster and you reacted in a certain way, what worked and what didn’t? How can you assist better your clients next time? Hopefully it will never happen again but, in certain cases and depending of certain geographical areas, we can’t be sure about it so we have to be ready again.
In addition to the Ready.gov website, it’s a good idea for event and wedding professionals to download the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s app to your phone. You can find it in your App Store or Google Play. I have it because I want to make sure the locations where my clients’ events or weddings will take place are in safe areas and nothing is causing danger to them and to their guests.
With this app you will receive alerts from the National Weather Service (right now it’s keeping us updated on Hurricane Maria, it tells us what FEMA is doing, and how you can help as well by donating to the people affected), you can locate open shelters in case you find yourself in a disaster area. The app also shares great tips and reminders on how to survive natural disasters. For more information, you can go to the FEMA website.
Holistic Life Coach, Brain Fitness Coach, and Life-Work Balance Strategist for busy professionals. I blend well-being principles with neuroscience, biohacking, positive psychology, stress management, and mindfulness techniques to implement effective behavior changes.