Added Value: Are You Ready for an Emergency?

|  August 6, 2015
Photo: ©

Accidents will happen, and you and your management team must be ready to step up and address them with calm resolve. Photo: ©

Your phone rings, and suddenly you learn one of your employees has been in a car accident. The spray tank has fallen from the truck and is lying in a ditch, possibly leaking chemicals into a stream. The fire department and hazmat crew want to know about the safety data sheets (SDSs) of the product ASAP. The ambulance has taken your technician to the hospital with a broken leg and unknown head and neck injuries.

Did I mention you’re taking this call at the airport as you’re boarding the plane with your family, leaving town for a week-long vacation?

Fail to plan, plan to fail
Having a clearly written protocol to handle emergency situations is critical. Accidents will happen, and you and your management team must be ready to step up and address them with calm resolve.

First, determine who’s in charge while you’re gone. You should have a manager in charge, appropriate to the size of your business and number of employees. If you don’t, you’d better not board the plane.

If you do have a manager, is he or she capable of handling anything that could arise in your absence? Have you made a list of the people your manager should contact when an emergency occurs? People who should be included on such a list are:

the employee’s family emergency contact and their information (in case of unconsciousness or death),

your insurance agent,

state officials, and

the auto body shop where the vehicle should be towed.

Is there a spill-control kit on the truck? Better yet, is your manager on the way with another one? Are there other employees at the scene who can help? Deciding how to handle an emergency like the aforementioned one will help you sleep better at night.

Property damage
Creating a checklist of how to deal with various situations that could occur in your business is a must. What if you receive a call at 3 a.m. informing you your office is on fire? (Boy, has this been a bad hypothetical day for you!)

Again, the fire department will want to know about the chemicals stored inside. Do you have a sound insurance policy with adequate coverage? Have you taken steps to ensure your data, customer list, banking information, payroll and human resources records are backed up, perhaps on an online cloud network?

Keeping a hard copy of important information in a safe at home or in a safety deposit box at a bank is also a good idea. Like it or not, your banking and other sensitive company or personnel information probably is accessible online, and could be vulnerable to hacking or identity theft.

Have you changed the passwords needed to access your electronic devices or accounts lately? I have so many passwords that I have to write them down and keep them somewhere safe. You should, too, or else invest in a password managing program that keeps them handy and secure.

Finally, do you have a will and living will for you and your family? This is important as an emergency safeguard. How you prepare your family members and business team for emergencies will be part of your legacy. You should make your reservations for eternity. We’ll all find our way there one day.

So, after all this gloom and doom, have a great day — right after you call your insurance agent! 

You can reach Ray Johnson, a past president of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), president of Sevierville, Tenn.-based Johnson Pest Control, and founder of ACES for Business, at

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