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Business Continuity: Know the Most Likely Hazards to Your Business


By Randall Hanifen
Contributor, EDM Digest

Business owners know to buy insurance, but they might not be aware of all the hazards that could interrupt their business operations. In areas such as California, for example, hazards include earthquakes and forest fires. In the Midwest, those disasters are less likely to occur, but tornadoes and flooding are major concerns.

Do you know the primary hazards in your area –fires, a tornadoes, power outages or floods? You need to determine which hazards could affect your company before you spend money on insurance that will cover each and every potential hazard.

Plan to Cope with a Variety of Potential Disasters

If you are covered by insurance for the most likely destructive hazards, you have good probability of recouping your losses. But you also need a plan to cope with a variety of other potential disasters that are not covered by insurance.

If you have a manufacturing facility, a sudden power outage or electric fire might be the most likely hazards you will encounter. In addition to insurance, mitigation, prevention and response strategies can limit interruptions and losses to your business.

However, if you own a high-profile shopping center, your hazards might be active shooters or a bomb. Obviously, preparation, mitigation and response to these events are significantly different from a power outage or small fire.

The Expertise You Need Depends on Disaster Types

Depending on the type of business you have, the necessary expertise and subject matter experts will vary greatly. Disasters will have significantly different effects on your type of business.

A power outage in a mall is an inconvenience for a day or so. But an active shooter event can create public fear and prevent potential shoppers from returning to the mall for years.

Additionally, a power outage can be resolved with a generator. Conversely, an active shooter scenario requires security measures, collaboration and training with police. A public relations professional will be required to deal with the press.

Often, business owners do not know how and where to prepare for hazards, especially in light of the barrage of news related to terrorism and destruction. By simply identifying and determining the likelihood of certain hazards, however, you won’t waste time or resources planning for a low-probability event.

Randall Hanifen Dr. Hanifen serves as a shift commander at a medium-sized suburban fire department in the northern part of the Cincinnati area. Randall is the CEO/principal consultant of an emergency services consulting firm, providing analysis and solutions related to organizational structuring of fire and EMS organizations. He is the chairperson and operations manager for a county technical rescue team. from a state and national perspective, he serves as a taskforce leader for one of FEMA's urban search and rescue teams, which responds to presidential declared disasters. From an academic standpoint, Randall has a bachelor’s degree in fire administration, a master’s degree in executive fire service leadership, and a doctoral degree in business administration with a specialization in homeland security. He is the associate author of “Disaster Planning and Control” (Penwell, 2009), which provides first responders with guidance through all types of disasters.