With all of the recent bombings and mass killings being planned and carried out by suspected terrorists, U.S. citizens have been warned to be extra diligent when they’re out in public with family and friends at social events such as sports games, holiday-themed parties, and such. However, if your small business offers these types of services or participates in them on a work-related basis, not only does this pose a concern for the general public, but it is likely a worry for your staff and customers as well.
So the real question is: Just how prepared is your business should a terrorist strike occur on or near your premises?
Unfortunately, no location is immune to this threat and there is no one-size-fits-all strategy that you can implement that will offer your small business 100 percent protection from a plotted terrorist action. BUT there are still things you can do to increase the safety of the employees and patrons on your premises, providing at least a safety-minded response should an attack occur.
Here are just a few of them to consider as suggested in Aware, Not Afraid, a book written about this very topic by safety experts J.C. Owens and Melvin Groves:
Create an Incident Plan for Your Business
If you don’t have one already, now is a great time to create an incident plan so that your staff can know exactly how to respond should an incident occur at or near your business. Not only can this reduce panic and mayhem, but it can also ultimately save lives, as preparedness is the key to taking the best action.
When creating your plan, ask yourself these kinds of questions:
- Who will contact the police should an incident occur? Realistically, if something happens, a lot of people will be calling for help, but you should also identify at least 2-3 people per shift and give them this responsibility to ensure the quickest emergency response possible.
- How will people be able to get out as quickly as possible should they need to? Think about all available exit routes (both from the buildings and the premises) should an incident occur so that people have more than one way to go in order to reach safety. Additionally, how accessible are they? Are they well-lit and clutter-free so that people can easily find their way?
- What equipment or items in your facility could potentially stop a bullet, making them a great place for people to go in the event of gunfire? Some items will hide people and others can actually prevent a bullet from penetrating them, so knowing the difference can save a bunch of lives should a mass shooting occur.
- How you will notify everyone on the premises should an incident occur that requires them to seek safety? Do you have a PA system or some other way to send out a mass notification? This is especially important if your business has a number of different buildings or encompasses a large area.
- Do you have a safe place where people can gather until help can arrive? Have more than one in mind should an incident occur in one of them and make it unusable. Preferably, you will want this place to be off-premises and as far away from the incident as reasonably possible.
- Do you have a code in place so that your staff knows when all is clear and it’s safe to come out? People are going to be scared and untrusting, so giving a safe code or safe word to signal when it’s okay to come out can help staff identify when the coast is definitely clear. Share this word with the police too so they can communicate more effectively with everyone involved once the incident has ceased.
Thinking about these things prior to them actually occurring can help enhance the safety of everyone in and around your small business should a situation arise.
Also Engage in Safety Practices While Traveling
If you or any of your staff have to travel for work, safety becomes an added concern because of the threats against airports and other locations that you may be traveling to. Therefore, Owens and Groves suggest that one of the things you can do to help protect yourself is to know basic phrases and words if you’re going to a foreign country so you can communicate in the event of an emergency.
They also stress that it is helpful to know important phone numbers should a problem arise and you need to contact someone for help while in that region. It doesn’t hurt to check in with the embassy or consulate either so they know you’re there should something major occur and they need to make contact with you, or should you need to make contact with them.
Again, there is nothing you can do to protect yourself 100 percent, but preparing beforehand can help reduce the casualties and trauma should a terrorist event occur.
Any other suggestions or anything I’ve missed? Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below so that other small business owners can use them to better protect their staff and customers too!
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a comment or unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!