Preparing for a Disaster

Building Inspections

Ensure your facilities are inspected regularly to avoid elements that may lead to or exacerbate a disaster. See the Stamford Building Inspection Department for more information. Have updated, time-stamped pictures of your equipment and facilities on file. These can be used as proof of damage when dealing with an insurance company after a disaster.

Emergency Plan

Businesses can limit injuries and dollars lost and return to normal operations more quickly if they plan ahead. As an employer, make sure your business has a building evacuation plan that is regularly practiced. Take a critical look at your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system to determine if it is secure or if it could feasibly be upgraded to better filter potential contaminants, and be sure you know how to turn it off if you need to. Think about what to do if your employees can’t go home. Have them make a family plan for emergencies. Finally, make sure you have appropriate supplies on hand. For more information on emergency supplies, see Be Prepared Stamford.

Business Continuity Plan

You can maintain operations during a service disruption, or open your doors sooner following a disaster if you have a plan in place. For businesses, this is called a Business Continuity Plan. A Business Continuity Plan helps your business determine what may be needed to keep your business running after an emergency, and it should cover the roles of management and staff, safeguarding your communications and technology, and maintaining or possible rebuilding your facilities. Keep in mind that creating a Business Continuity Plan is only a first step. You must test and update your plan periodically in order to truly be prepared. Testing and maintenance should be included in your plan.

Elements of an Effective Business Continuity Plan

Assessment:

  • Risk Assessment - Identify potential risks like a power outage, pest infestation, fire, or hurricane and then consider their impact and probability.

  • Vendor Assessment - Determine your vendor’s ability to continue service despite any sort of interruption in normal operations with the goal being to keep your supply chain intact.

  • Identify Essential Functions - Essential functions are vital to your business operations and include business functions that are most sensitive to downtime, fulfill legal or financial obligations to maintain cash flow, play a key role in maintaining your business’ market share and reputation, or safeguard an irreplaceable asset.

Management and Staff:

  • Delegation of Authority - Your business must provide for a clear line of succession in the absence of existing leadership and the necessary delegations of authority to ensure that succeeding leadership has the legal authority to carry out their duties.

  • Cross Training - Personnel should be able to perform the functions of their peers and the persons above and below them in an emergency.

Communications and Technology:

  • Emergency Communications - Determine, document, and publicize an emergency communications plan that may include a phone or email tree, an employee evacuation plan, or a web site emergency messaging system.

  • Phone Recovery - Contact your telephone provider during the planning process so your phone can be redirected in the event of an emergency.

  • Vital Records Management - Create a plan to protect or back up all recorded information in the event of an emergency.

Facilities:

  • Insurance - Consult with your insurance carrier about special precautions to take for disasters that may directly impact your business and know what disasters your policy does and doesn’t cover.

  • Existing Facilities - Prevent or reduce disaster damage in your facility by taking precautions beforehand, such as having fire extinguishers readily available or installing storm windows to protect against rain and strong winds.

  • Continuity Facilities - If possible, your business should have separate facilities where essential business functions can continue to be carried out if the original facilities are damaged by a disaster.

Plan Maintenance:

  • Testing, Training, and Exercise - Testing your continuity plan is the best way to ensure that your business will remain in operation no matter what disaster occurs. A full-scale test of all essential functions should be performed at least once a year.

Corporate Emergency Access System (CEAS)

The City of Stamford has taken steps to ensure that businesses in Stamford remain operational and viable whenever possible in the wake of an emergency or disaster, by implementing the new Corporate Emergency Access System (CEAS). This program allows essential business employees to gain access to restricted areas following a disaster or serious emergency by using a secure identification card recognized by the police. By allowing businesses to initiate a reentry and recovery process as quickly as possible, companies can continue the critical functions of business throughout or soon after a disaster. CEAS may help you limit financial loss, retain customers, and get you back in business faster. Any business can elect to participate in CEAS, paid for by participating businesses through an annual enrollment fee. To obtain more information about CEAS or enroll in the program, visit the CEAS website.

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