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Extreme weather – how to plan for a crisis

At a glance

  • Though not here yet, freezing temperatures and weather warnings will soon be upon us, meaning now is the ideal time to ensure businesses have continuity plans in place should severe weather cause interruption
  • Careful planning for an extreme weather event is crucial if businesses are to continue to operate effectively in times of crisis
  • Keeping on top of communication is essential for businesses, and never more so than when anything threatens business continuity.

This article counts towards accumulating your annual CII CPD structured learning hours for Weather.

By reading this article, and correctly answering the three questions underneath, you will have achieved the following learning outcome: Identify risk management strategies for dealing with extreme weather.

Visit the CPD Hub to log in and begin accumulating CPD hours.

Though not here yet, freezing temperatures and weather warnings will soon be upon us, meaning now is the ideal time to ensure businesses have continuity plans in place should severe weather cause interruption.

With most experts agreeing that climate change will herald an increase in these types of weather events, and with this year’s inclement weather season nearly upon us, it is imperative that businesses have the capability to deal with a weather-related crisis – and the ability to carry on communicating, both internally and externally.

Importance of pre-planning

Careful planning for an extreme weather event is crucial if businesses are to continue to operate effectively in times of crisis – if communications are disabled and many workers are left struggling to reach the office – as is regular testing of these plans.

Although most organisations today have some sort of plan in place to deal with an unforeseen event, it may not be that effective when a storm strikes. And by not properly planning, businesses may be exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.

On the contingency planning side, it is also important to manage any residual risk; for instance, flood protection and defences can fail or not perform as well as expected and this needs to be planned for.

Managing the recovery

It is important to create a crisis communication capability that is constantly updated, with management aware of the actions required to recover from any disasters. This could include calling all employees to inform them of what is happening, setting up remote access with appropriate cyber security and arranging the functionality for calls to be re-routed from the office to other locations.

Businesses can never be too prepared for such events, which is why it’s important organisations keep well-developed contact lists of not only key customers and suppliers, but also basic utilities and support services. Liaising with key media outlets can also aid any recovery effort and also, in some cases, provide a contact point for employees.

Keeping a documented chain of command can also help during a crisis, as previous weather events show that a company cannot count on the availability of all leadership. Viable alternatives are needed for who can step into the breach and which employees have strong knowledge to aid the continuity of the business.

Establishing a definite means of communication when a crisis hits is also critical. This can range from the strategic placement of satellite phones within an organisation, to websites with bulletin boards for posting messages and social media channels where individuals can relay messages.

Keeping on top of communication is essential for businesses, and never more so than when anything threatens business continuity.

For more information about how best to plan for business continuity throughout the winter, please speak to your local Zurich contact.

Image © Getty

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