Livia Whisenhunt: Helpful Tips for Your Company’s Disaster Plan

As we approach hurricane season, it’s important to review your disaster plans. At PS Energy, we know an emergency in one region can impact productivity across the country. While you’re attending the National Conference & Business Fair, make sure you have peace of mind for your business at home.

Disaster Plan Basics

Although your disaster plan should be structured, making it too detailed or rigid can be a costly mistake. Flexibility is key so that adjustments can easily be made to deal with unexpected events or consequences.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure your current plan is designed for a worst-case scenario situation and that it includes a mission and duties, a disaster organizational chart, reporting procedures, breakdown of responsibilities, contact information and a list of key company resources.

Fuel and Fleet

If your operations include a fleet of vehicles that depends on fuel, making sure your lines of supply are in place and your vehicles are disaster ready-to-go is essential to your disaster plan. Have fuel contracts in place, written with provisions that your fuel suppliers are required to make a good-faith effort to supply emergency fuel during a disaster and, if they fail to do so, suffer contractual consequences.

If you have a tank farm, your plan needs to address how it will be powered should a power outage occur. And, if your fleet needs to have an emergency fuel reserve, your plan should take into consideration that vehicles will need at least 72 hours worth of fuel, as this is the average amount of time before a FEMA response.

A strong disaster recovery plan covers vehicle maintenance. If maintenance is performed “in-house,” make sure you have an ample supply of the necessary parts and tools. If maintenance is outsourced, look over that company’s disaster plan to ensure that their services will be sufficient for your needs. And, of course, preventative year-round maintenance is always a good idea and a cost-effective way to have your vehicles ready to ride out the storm.

Your plan should address emergency routes for your fleet in case regular routes are closed or impassable. And, fleet security should be thoroughly covered, including security cameras and fencing to keep your vehicles and other assets safe and protected.


Empowering Your Team

An effective disaster plan must be straightforward, clearly understandable, and easily adaptable by all your employees. It is imperative that each employee knows their individual role during a disaster situation and is also trained in such areas as basic first aid, CPR and search/rescue techniques. Knowing jargon used by first responders, including firefighters, police officers, and paramedics, is also important so that everyone is speaking the same language and communication is clear and effective.

Your plan should also provide for continuing disaster and emergency education classes at regular intervals, as well as disaster scenario tabletop exercises and training drills with specific objectives.

A solid disaster plan lays out employee scheduling so employees know when to respond and also provides steps for 24/7 operations. A good idea is to divide your employees into groups so when required to “report for duty,” the message is as clear and simple as possible; for example, “Group 1 and Group 2 respond immediately.”

Test and Tweak

The only way to know if your disaster recovery plan is effective is for it to be tested. And, the only way for it to be truly tested is when a disaster occurs. Nonetheless, it is important to do regular and complete run-throughs of your plan with all your employees and evaluate what works and what needs to be tweaked.

Adjustments to your disaster plan should be made with input, not just from management, but also from your employees. Test, tweak and make adjustments to your plan as often as possible. When preparing for disaster, you can never be too prepared.

Livia Whisenhunt

PS Energy group offer businesses a full range of energy and transportation solutions, including transportation fuels, retail fuel cards, inventory management, emergency fueling, and wireless solutions, including tank monitoring and telematics. They help fleets improve productivity and manage costs through better fuel use, monitoring, and reporting.

Posted on May 12, 2016 .