No matter how well prepared a business is, no one could have ever accurately predicted the arrival and impact of COVID-19. It’s been about 18 months since the virus first upended operations. Forcing businesses of all shapes and sizes to pivot in ways they never thought imaginable.
For utilities, specifically, COVID-19 ushered in the era of the “twindemic” a term used to describe the simultaneous management of both the health crisis and extreme weather events like hurricanes and wildfires. It’s more apparent than ever that utilities will have to put forth planning efforts to prepare for both situations moving forward. But how can utilities know they’re doing so optimally? Here are five things a utility must do as part of an overarching disaster readiness plan.
While COVID-19 is a global crisis that impacted everyone nearly universally, not all utilities face the same natural disasters. While utilities in South Florida certainly have no reason to prepare for a blizzard, those in Oklahoma can scratch hurricanes off their list as an example. One of the most important steps in disaster preparedness is assessing which threats could realistically occur in your location. This analysis should include downstream effects, like fires that happen in the aftermath of a hurricane or tornado.
The more groundwork you can lay when there’s not an emergency, the better. An essential step in that process is identifying the key contacts who will run point over each function. One example that applies to both a COVID-like pandemic and a natural disaster is the transition to telecommuting. Your disaster readiness preparation should include designating someone to distribute computers and equipment for employees to work from home. Assigning that position (and others like it) in advance will allow that person to execute faster when disaster actually strikes.
It’s a good idea to keep the committee that builds your disaster readiness plan relatively small. There will come a point when the plan is circulated for feedback. After the first draft is completed, don’t hesitate to send it around to functional leaders for their review and reaction. There’s a chance that the committee may have overlooked something that a department leader or employee would pick up on.
Think back to childhood, and you may remember your teacher leading the class outside of the building as part of a fire alarm. While it seemed tedious, that exercise is tremendously important in ensuring the children know where to go if the building does catch fire. The same is true for utilities and disaster readiness planning. Practice makes perfect, so try to complete a dry run of different facets of your plan at least once a quarter. This could include turning on and testing seldom-used equipment to certify it remains in working order.
Disaster readiness plans are hardly “set it and forget it” documents. COVID-19 is a perfect example as to why. These plans must be updated with regularity. Each time you execute the plan, make notes on what went well and what needs improvement for future updates
As a customizable field service software designed specifically for the utility industry, EnSight+ offers the type of capabilities that empower utilities. Seamlessly executing disaster readiness plans. With work order management and scheduling, routing, and dispatch modules in place, our solution keeps your plans and your employees on task. To learn more about what we can do for you, book your demo today.
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