Sample Disaster Protocol and Checklist: Follow-Up to 3 Part ‘What we learned from Sandy’ Series

To view the original 3 part series, click HERE

In the event that we are lucky enough to have foreknowledge of an impending disaster, there are a number of things that can be done to increase the probability of continuing business during the event. Please use the following text to aid in creating a plan that suits your organization.

Disaster Preparation

Have you identified primary and alternate incident commanders?

  • The incident commander it the primary moderator, facilitator and focal point for important communications during any disaster. An incident commander or an alternate must be available, at a minimum, during business operating hours.
  • Has a reporting structure been defined that will maintain reliable control and communication between all departments while maintaining optimal span of control? (Span of control should be between 3 and 7 subordinates, optimally not exceeding 5 subordinates.)

How will you prepare your offices?

  • What items to do you need to protect?  What needs to be covered, moved or removed?

Do you have the equipment needed to maintain productivity in the event of a service outage?

  • Consider ordering spare cellular internet cards, headsets for softphone clients on laptops, battery backups or backup power.

Have you identified key personnel?

  • Key personnel should be trained and familiar with the equipment they will be expected to use.

Do you have any offline processes that require office supplies (printer, paper, order forms?

  • Who will be responsible for stocking and distributing these supplies?

Do you have communication plans in place for staff and clients?

  • If your phone system is down, can you forward your calls to an alternate phone number?  Do you have the information for your phone carrier to set up call forwarding?
  • Will you use social media to inform your staff and clients?
  • Will you update your website with an event related message?
  • Are all staff members responsible for these tasks trained and prepared to take action when needed?

Sample Plan:

General Preparation

  • Incident Command Structure must be complete and up to date
  • Key Personnel must be identified listed along with their functions and expected responsibilities
  • Emergency Equipment Inventory must be maintained and tracked

Begin preparing the Office

  • Everything of value must be removed from the floors in case of flooding.
  • Unplug any equipment that will not be required while you are out of the office to protect it from power surges.
  • Cover any valuable equipment that cannot be moved with plastic or tarps. If the equipment must remain in operation, ensure that adequate ventilation is maintained to prevent machine overheat conditions.
  • Move any valuable paperwork, tools or equipment to a safe area of the office or to an alternate location.
  • Provide key personnel with cellular internet cards, additional power supplies (such as automotive jump start packs and inverters/DC-DC converters)

Begin preparing your people

Possible email communications can include:

  • Event awareness – Let your staff know that you are aware of a potential event.  Advise them to be alert to this event and begin preparing themselves and their homes, if necessary. Valuable and possibly lifesaving information provided by FEMA can be found HERE.
  • Event preparation – Ask for participation in any physical preparation that may be necessary within your office.  Review any offline processes with staff.  Print and distribute any backup documentation to staff in the event there is no power. Assign equipment that key personnel are expected to bring home with them (desktop or laptop, monitor, keyboard, mouse, phone, headset, etc.). Include all associated power cords and chargers.
  • Event Schedule – Publicize best estimates of when the event expected to take place. Notify the staff as to whether they are expected to report to the office or report in from home.

Distribute a printed list of key phone numbers and a schedule of departmental call in sessions where management and staff can provide their status and management can plan to continue meeting company objectives.   Establish a “buddy” system with other employees so they can check in on each other and if necessary, report in for each other.

Set up an open (un-moderated) conference bridge number that anyone with the correct password or PIN can join. This is an excellent method for communications when normal communication channels are disrupted since it is not dependent upon a single contact or manager to moderate or host the call.

External Communications

Implement your external communications plan

  • Update your website and social media
  • Set call forwarding
  • Initiate conference bridge(s)


At this point, the business is prepared to communicate, plan and remain productive under emergency conditions. Decisions will be made as to the need to implement other plans such as DR/BC, allocation of resources and prioritization of service restoration.

Further Reading:

  • ICS (Incident Command System)

The Incident Command System (ICS) is a standardized, on-scene, all-hazards incident management approach.

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