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Events involving civil unrest don’t get names like a hurricane, but they can lead to a similar large loss. Those losses can be lessened when you follow these ACTION steps.

Social injustice, political change, labor disputes, and even public celebrations….they don’t get alphabetic names like hurricanes but the civil unrest that may accompany them can lead to a similar large loss. And much like a natural disaster, these losses can often be lessened or avoided when businesses develop an emergency response plan that considers the following six basic ACTION steps.

Assessment - Understanding the degree of risk is an important part of developing your response plan. In the same way that a business located along a coastal hurricane path prepares for such events more so than a business that is further inland, a businesses or location that is a likely target or in the path of a civil unrest event should be well prepared. A business whose products or services are directly or indirectly associated with polarizing stances or government functions may be a direct target, while a location near such a business, government agency, large arena, or common parade/protest route may suffer from being in the path of the storm. This is especially true for urban or downtown areas where population density allows for groups to form more rapidly.

Communication – Information flow is critical to successfully implementing a response plan. This includes staying aware of developing external events and conditions (news feeds, social media, employee reporting) as well as having an effective plan to communicate information to internal and remote management and employees. When developing a communication plan, include coordination with emergency services and local authorities, top down and bottom up reporting structures, alert systems, and remote employees. For example, a regional delivery driver may be able to notify the corporate office of a developing event in a nearby town which allows for notification to local authorities, changes in distribution routes and increased monitoring to determine if the event may spread.

Transportation – Getting from point A to point B in a natural disaster can become a travel nightmare and fleet vehicles staged in the path of the storm are at greater risk of loss. The same concerns can apply when dealing with civil unrest. Plan on delays, allow adequate time for safe exit, identify problem routes, move fleet vehicles and mobile equipment to a safer garage location if possible. While the speed of development for some events may limit what can be done, planning ahead will maximize your success at minimizing the risk of loss.

Insulation – When possible, personnel, vehicles and mobile equipment should be isolated from the impact of a storm by moving them out of the path. However, this is not an option for the physical structures that remain, and these may include personnel, operating systems or inventory. When isolation is not an option, insulation or developing layers of protection should be implemented. Directional barriers, open space, additional security are all methods of insulation. In general, civil unrest or civil disobedience starts as a protest related to a particular cause but is often infiltrated by those seeking to exploit an opportunity to highjack a cause. Insulating against the heat of those extremes will minimize risk. Similar to a storm, move personnel, high value and critical items to less accessible levels. Remove external materials that could end up being a source of damage. Divert the flow away from vulnerable areas.

Operations – A critical part of any emergency action plan is determining when and how to shut-down non-critical operations and how to ensure the continuation of those deemed critical. Identify timelines and action steps for curtailing and closing operations based on the expected impact of the “storm” event by using the Assessment, Communication and Transportation steps. Use the Insulation step to help protect critical power and data systems. A civil unrest event may not have the broader impact on utilities that a storm has, but it may lead to limited utility disruptions, property damage and repair capability that impact operations.

Next Steps – After any storm is the clean-up. This may be minor in scope with removal of debris and repair of superficial damage, or it may be major. Contingency plans should include the potential need for remote operations during repair. Having established agreements with contractors and security companies for emergency services may help speed the process. Depending on the nature of the event, counseling and support services may be in order. A key part of success in the next steps phase is leaning on the trusted relationship with your insurance agent and Nationwide Claims partners.

Civil unrest is certainly not new and it is not necessarily destructive or disruptive, but as the occurrence of these events seem to be on the increase, it makes good business sense to be ready should a storm develop by taking ACTION now.

For more details on steps to take to manage a facility following a period of civil unrest, see our article on maintaining closed/idle buildings.

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