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Sight Lines: Are You Prepared for a Pandemic?

September 15, 2009
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If the H1N1 flu strikes at your firm, could you afford to shut down for a week? Would your clients understand if you had to delay their projects, or would you end up losing jobs to another company? Do you have a written plan?



By now, we’re all getting sick and tired of hearing about how sick and tired the H1N1 flu might make people this fall and winter. There’s been so much media hype that it’s difficult to take any of the warnings seriously. After all, it’s just another variation of the sneezing-sniffling-coughing-aching-fever-sore throat-generally miserable flu. It won’t be fun if it happens to hit you, but it’s nothing to panic about.

Unless, of course, you’re a small business owner and five of your six employees get sick at the same time. Could you afford to shut down for a week? Would your clients understand if you had to delay their projects, or would you end up losing jobs to another firm? Do you have a written plan?

September is National Preparedness Month--a reminder to make sure we're all prepared for any type of emergency. To help small businesses prepare for a potentially disruptive outbreak of H1N1 in their community or workplace, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a new guide. The guide includes tips for writing a preparedness plan, strategies for communicating with employees about how to stay healthy and what to do if the flu strikes, and frequently asked questions about the 2009 H1N1 flu. There’s also a wealth of useful information (believe it or not) at www.flu.gov.

Granted, a lot of the recommendations are just common sense. If you run a solo operation, you’re already well aware of the implications of getting sick (or injured, for that matter). The last thing you need is advice from Big Brother. But it’s all too easy for small business owners to have a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants mentality-an attitude that can quickly get you into trouble if disaster does strike. Whether it’s a flu pandemic or some other calamity, the individuals and businesses who have a plan in place will be able to respond quickly and will be in a much better position to take the situation in stride.

And that’s nothing to sneeze at.

P.S. Just for fun, check out the Flu.gov PSA contest at www.youtube.com/USGOVHHS and vote for your favorite video. Voting ends at 11:59 pm EDT on Sept. 16. Additional information on National Preparedness Month can be found at ready.gov.


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What do you think? Is all of the discussion about the H1N1 flu unnecessary or is it a good idea to review the guidelines and information? Does your firm have a written plan for how to handle pandemics and other disasters? Please share your comments below.
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