As an admin, it’s your responsibility to keep your office running from day to day. But what happens when disaster strikes? In order to be prepared for an emergency — whether it’s a fire, natural disaster, or other event — you need a disaster recovery plan, and one critical component of it is an emergency communications plan.
Just as emergency first responders are responsible for helping others in times of crisis, admins have to hold things together when everything is falling apart. That’s why it’s so important for you to be organized and have a good communication plan in place for both your office and your family.
Creating your emergency communication plan doesn’t have to be overly complex, but it should include all the detailed information you need to reach your colleagues, executives, and loved ones. The following are some tips to consider and incorporate as you develop your plan.
1. Document your emergency communication procedures. These procedures should include step-by-step directions for when the emergency communications plan takes effect (for instance, if the office is unusable), as well as who is responsible for calling whom first, second, third, and so on. Your emergency communications procedures should also be included in your administrative or office procedures, in addition to your emergency preparedness plan.
2. Compile a contact list. This list should include all the people you’ll need to reach in the event of an emergency, along with their primary and secondary phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses. For your office list, you should include information for your executives, colleagues, people on your team, as well as your office building’s management, maintenance, and security personnel. It should also include key suppliers, vendors, and clients you may need to reach if business operations are impacted for a period of time. For your family’s contact list, make sure to include all local family members, as well as any out-of-towners who need to be notified in the event of an emergency. Designate a central point of contact so everyone knows where to call to report their location and status.
3. Make sure everyone knows the plan. Do your colleagues know where to meet if severe weather strikes? Do your kids know where to go if the house is on fire? Everyone in the office and at your home should know the designated spot to meet, and how to get in touch with the rest of the office or family if a disaster occurs. Practice it on a regular basis to reinforce the plan.
4. Text instead of call. Phone networks can get jammed when there’s an emergency, and severe weather can make it even more challenging to get calls through to colleagues and loved ones. The FCC recommends texting people you need to communicate with during a disaster, instead of calling. The likelihood that your message will go through is a lot greater, especially when the networks are experiencing a high volume of calls. Click here for more tips from the FCC on communicating during a disaster. Note: Text messages to 911 do not work in all areas. If you need emergency assistance, voice calls are preferred over text messages.
If you’re looking for some more help in creating your emergency communication plan, this website is a great place to start. You can also find more information on preparing your office for an emergency at PrepareMyBusiness.org.
Start creating your emergency communications plan today and practice it often. With a good plan in place, you’ll be ready when a disaster strikes.
Fires? Floods? Power Outages? We want to hear your disaster recovery stories! Share your stories and photos with us at AdminSuccess@AllThingsAdmin.com.
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.