that we should not spend money on putting business continuity/disaster recovery
plans in place because of the cost.
The possible components of a family
support program are:
1. A family disaster plan
2. A disaster awareness program
3. A disaster team dedicated to family
support at the time of a disaster providing
communication between employees at work
and their families
4. Providing resources to families following a
a. Providing housing to families in a disaster
b. Providing staple supplies to families that can
remain in their homes
The Family Disaster Plan
Everyone in the business continuity
industry is aware of the importance of
having a disaster plan at home. The minimum required is to have supplies stored
away in case of a disaster. However, for
most people the fear of such a disaster has
made it impossible to even think about the
possibility of a situation that would require
such supplies. This has led many people to
avoid putting those supplies in place and
putting other plans such as a family communication plan in place.
Since the common wisdom is that, if we
do not plan in advance we will worry more
about our families in a disaster, it is in the
interest of any company to make sure that a
family disaster plan is in place for each of
their key employees. Again, the theory is
that an employee will be more likely to stay
at work or come into work if they know
their family is prepared and taken care of.
So what should a company provide
to their employees?
At a minimum, a “fill in the blanks”
template for a family disaster plan should
be provided to their employees. Other
pieces of the plan should include:
n Information about the possible and likely
disasters that can occur in the area.
n Provide preparedness information regarding:
wCreating a family disaster plan including a plan
on how family members outside the home can
contact each other (remember, phone lines
coming into a disaster area are reduced and
phone lines going out are increased)
wCreating a family financial recovery plan
wDeveloping a list of emergency numbers &
wDeveloping an emergency kit packed and ready
wIdentifying possible escape routes and meeting
58 DISASTER RECOVERY JOURNAL FALL 2009
wSafe and secure archival of important legal
w Ways to protect your home
w Where to go to acquire more information
n What to do during a disaster
n What to do immediately following a disaster
n First aid and safety information to tend to
family and pets
n Who to call for help and services following a
Note that there is minimal cost to create, produce
and distribute the above information.
You can also arrange with a vendor of
disaster supplies to provide a discount to
employees who purchase through them. If
you have a larger budget you can supplement the cost of these kits providing a
lower cost to your employees or pay for
At no additional cost you can provide
information about how to get trained in
first aid and CPR. The Red Cross offers
courses all over the country. Many companies offer these courses to their employees
for free. These programs can be expanded
to include family members at low or no
Disaster Awareness Program
Some companies are already involved
in a disaster awareness program with their
employees. Many are not. What gets forgotten is that the information usually does
not filter down from the employee to the
family. Also, the program is usually a
once-a-year shot. Then it’s out of sight,
out of mind.
First, every company should participate in a disaster awareness program.
September is National Preparedness
Month. It is important for every company
to participate and a company’s disaster
awareness program can dovetail very well
with this national program.
At a minimum, each company should
put up posters, have disaster awareness
meetings at work and send a note home so
that their employees are reminded about
the need to be prepared at home.
To take it to the next step, how hard
would it be to include disaster awareness
in the company’s monthly newsletter so
the reminder is there all of the time?
The Family Support Team
All company disaster recovery plans
include many teams that support employees in a disaster and recovery activities.
However, few plans include a designated
team for communication and support of
the employees’ families.
Why is this necessary?
It’s necessary because an employee,
who is needed for the company recovery,
is worried about his home and family, not
the company’s needs. So, if we can make
that employee feel his family is taken care
of, he/she is more likely to stay at work or
leave their home to support the company’s
The purpose of the family support team
First, it provides a channel of communication between the employee at work and
their family at home following a disaster.
A team made up of human resources professionals could attempt to contact family
members to for employees who chose to
stay at work to make sure they are safe and
secure. This can be done via telephone or,
in certain situations, with a team member
going out to the home to make contact.
The communication can be passed along
to the employee so they can feel more
comfortable in staying. The team can also
facilitate voice communication between
the employee and their family.
Providing Resources to
The second purpose of the family support team is to provide resources to families following a disaster.
After a regional disaster hits, families
have certain needs that may not be readily
available. It may be as simple as knowing
where the nearest shelter is, where they
can board pets or where they can find services that are provided by local, state and
federal agencies or the Red Cross. Armed
with this information, employees can assist
their families with settling into a situation
that is safe, secure and has resources to
provide to those affected by the disaster.
The family support team can arrange
in advance with local hotels to reserve a
group of rooms at a corporate rate so the
families can be near to where the employee
is working following a disaster. Should
funds be available, a company could actually pay for the hotel stay of the family.
For those who can and wish to stay in
their homes, resources such as fresh water,
food staples and other necessities may be
in short supply. The local supermarkets