How Ready is Your Firm’s Emergency Readiness?

Bill Melby’s handbook cites the types of calamities, i.e., hurricane, wildfire, earthquake or other unforeseen eve for which a business should plan, and the tips, tactics, why and how-to of minimizing disaster consequences.

SAN FRANCISCO—California architect Bill Melby has seen disasters and the aftermath many times during his decades-long career, and worries that the economic slowdown and pandemic may be taking real estate and business leaders’ eyes off the ball. A cofounder of the Odiz-Melby design  rm and statewide chair of the AIA Disaster Response Network, he’s called upon from time to time to weigh in on planning strategies and readiness.

COVID is a slow-moving disaster but regular run-of-the-mill disasters can still happen any time, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires, as recent dry lightning sparks indicate, he says. In light of this year’s  res and hurricanes, Melby decided to create a free downloadable handbook ( with more details than the typical “top fives” and “stop, drop and roll” educational efforts. The handbook cites the types of calamities for which a business should plan, then gets into the tips, tactics, why and how-to of minimizing the consequences of disaster. Whether a business operation is at risk of hurricane, wildfire, “the big one” earthquake or other unforeseen events, Melby offers some recommendations such as:

Chapter 1/What To Plan For covers critical issues from power interruptions and loss of phone service and communications to damaged roads and escape routes or even protecting electronic documents.

Chapter 2/What To Have On Hand has the fundamentals of food, medicine and safety items but also walks through why to have certain things, where to put them and how to make use of tool kits, specialty gloves, white-board message boards, walkie-talkies and more.

Chapter 3/Training For a Disaster is perhaps the most important in going beyond the basics into training and structured responsibilities, from annual assessments and emergency drills to testing communications and back-ups, querying employee safety protocols, updating equipment and even family notification networks and personal safety.

“Be ready. There’s no time like the present,” Melby tells

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