Earlier this month Gloucester based Company Avon metals suffered what could have been a devastating fire at their Gloucester headquarters. However the business was saved by not only expertise of the local fire and rescue service, but by the Company staff and their quick thinking. Which we should all take as a prompt to examine our emergency plans, and whether our staff will know how to react if the worst happens.

Staff took quick action to shut of gas and electricity, and remove servers from the site. What we don’t know is whether these were actions were planned as part of an emergency response process or if it was just down to genuine quick thinking.

Top Tips for using and setting Emergency Plans

We hope as small business owners that we will never have to deal with these kind of emergencies, and whilst Avon Metals, clearly deal in hot work and will have had robust health and safety processes in place, even the lowest risk businesses could encounter a fire or flood. So we’ve put together some top tips to consider;

  1. Identify your biggest disruption risks, e.g. fire from a neighbouring building or an old boiler, flooding from a nearby river or residential tenant upstairs, or power outages common in rural locations.
  2. Plan how you can reduce those risks: have you or your landlord recently had the boiler serviced, do you have contact details for your neighbours- whether they are business or residential tenants, can you put a backup power supply in place for outages, and can you store vital equipment (files, servers, IT equipment) off floor level to protect them for longer in the event of a flood?
  3. Think about what will you do if there is an emergency;
    • Are your servers onsite?
    • Can staff work from home or another location?
    • Do you have an evacuation plan, muster points, and how will you know everyone is safely out?
    • Do the local emergency services have out of hours contact details for the business.
    • How will you communicate with staff- do you hold personal/home contact details somewhere you can access them- away from the office.

Lots of insurance companies now seek to have a contingency plan in place, and it is a good exercise to write one. But above all its actually really important to talk and communicate the plan with staff- if possible they should be involved in developing it as they may well know practical things that you don’t.

But also as was the case at this local Gloucester based company your staff could be the people that save your business so don’t just create a document to please the insurance company- create something that will actually help you in the event of a real life emergency.

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