Mitigate the affects of severe weather by planning ahead

The Wrong Type of Snow? image

Forecasters warn that last year's Beast from the East is set to make an unwelcome return this winter. Changing stratospheric conditions above the Arctic could bring freezing temperatures with snow, blizzards and ice affecting transport, homes and businesses.

It doesn’t take long for infrastructure to grind to a halt in these situations. In many areas of the country last year, nothing much moved for several days. Essential services were maintained through the hard work of emergency services and acts of kindness by individuals.

It’s hard to recall now that basic foodstuffs like milk and bread were in short supply as deliveries were unable to get through to restock shelves. Schools were closed, power cut off and water supplies interrupted as pipes froze and burst. It is not just the immediate situation that has to be dealt with, but the knock on effects too.

Business continuity planning is about thinking through the consequences of an incident and the actions that need to be taken pre-incident in order to provide an effective response.

Imagine a worst case scenario; you are unable to get to your business premises because of roads blocked by snow or floods. How does this affect your ability to maintain services to customers or clients? What are your priorities?

Are you a contact centre dealing with emergency calls or a care home with vulnerable residents? Or perhaps a university with students about to sit important exams? Do you rely on just in time distribution of goods to replenish your retail sites? Do you need to ship products off site quickly to meet contractual agreements?

Every organisation, public, private or voluntary, should understand what it needs to do to maintain essential critical services in times of difficulty. Thinking through the pre-incident actions now will help bring about a more effective response and recovery later. For example:

Staff welfare

What actions can you take to keep staff safe?
How will you communicate with staff?
Do you know emergency contact details?

Business priorities

What are your critical activities (key services or product lines)?
What are the required recovery times?

Premises

Where you could relocate to (home, serviced office, temporary warehouse)?
What actions should be taken to protect assets?

Resources

What resources (people, IT/comms, equipment, supplies, etc.) would be needed to keep essential services going until full functionality can be restored?
What could be done pre-incident to reduce the impact of loss of resources?

Response & Recovery

Develop business continuity and contingency plans
Designate response teams to deal with the immediate situation and the subsequent recovery
Think about workarounds that can be adopted until resources are made available

Good communication is the key to maintaining control and managing a difficult situation well.

Incident management and business continuity planning extend beyond restoring the organisation’s infrastructure and factors into the equation consideration of staff welfare issues resulting from the incident. For example, flooding may affect people’s homes with families forced to relocate and faced with the inevitable hardships that will accompany such a situation.

Supporting staff through a critical and worrying time following an incident will not only be appreciated, but will be remembered and helps to foster staff loyalty. This focus could also be extended to the wider community.

We can no longer ignore the change in the pace of adverse weather conditions. Extreme weather conditions are becoming a more regular feature of the headlines. Could extreme become the norm?

 

Read relevant case studies to see how our clients plan for adversity:

Education Sector: University

Retail & Distribution: Food & Drink Importer

Manufacturing: Bottled Water Producer

Professional Services: Solicitors

  • Date: 14th January 2019
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