Home Contingency Plans: A Personal Story

A few weeks back I noted that I’d gone through a bit of a continuity/crisis situation of my own and thought I’d share some of the learning’s I got from it.  There were a few things I hadn’t considered after all.  It was a bit of surprise to come home and find that I wasn’t going to be able to stay there for a while due to hydro/power lines being cut – in the middle of winter.  Now, if you didn’t know, I’m up in Canada, which can get pretty darn cold so you can imagine what it would have to be like for us to be told to move. 

            What do I need?  What do I have to take?  What about my dog?  What about mail?  Phone calls?  Emails?  Food?  All of these things went through my head when I was first told – as I walked into the lobby after getting back from a client site (which was a looong day to start with). 

  1. Hotels – To be honest, I didn’t know where I was going to stay for a few days.  There were hotels in the area but not one of them came to mind when confronted with it.  If you can, know in advance what hotels you could stay that have room for kids / families.  I didn’t stay at a hotel btw…more further down the page.
  2. Consider the Pets – Even though I have a dog (a Wheaton Terrier named ‘Seven’), I hadn’t considered what to do with him when I have to activate my contingency plan.  Sure, I take him everywhere and make sure he’s taken care of every second of the day (like walks in the afternoon with a dog-walker) but I had never thought about what hotels are dog friendly and which ones wouldn’t be – at least those in the area.  So, I had to decide what I was going to do with him; leaving him alone was not an option.  If you have to vacate for awhile and have a dog, what hotels can you stay in that would be accommodating for a dog? 
  3. Medicines – I know it may seem odd, but considering its the winter here and I had a cold, I almost forgot the antibiotics I was on to help get rid of the cold/flu I had.  Not only that, but Seven is 11+ years old and must have a ‘doggy-pill’ each morning – without it, he gets, err, well…not well.  It might not be a big thing but when you consider that most of the medicines’ we take are part of our daily routine, we can easily forget them when our routine is shaken up a bit. 
  4. Friends – Let’s clarity, I didn’t have a bunch of friends I had to take from my place to the new place; they weren’t locked in a closet or something.  J  What I’m getting at is, one of the first things I thought of when I found I had to stay somewhere else was a couple of friends I knew had room in their house for a guest and were dog friendly.  Luckily, this is where I ended up staying.  The hotels that could accept dogs in my area were already gone.  I guess that’s the price of coming home late from work that night.  If you can, make an agreement with a friend or two so that they can stay with you or you can stay with them when disaster strikes.  Oh, and before you ask, my closest family members lives 1,000km away so it just isn’t feasible to consider. 
  5. Key Phone Numbers – It should go without saying that this is something you should always have readily available, not matter what happens or where you are.  Considering the technology today (i.e. cell phones, smart phones, tablets etc), this really shouldn’t be an issue with the majority of people.  But make sure you have them anyway in case you lose your phone. I don’t know how many times I’ve just dialled someone’s number by pressing a single digit or selecting a name from a list.  Without that though, I’d be lost so I always make sure I have a paper copy somewhere just in case.  Print out your contact list once and awhile as a contingency measure. 
  6. Cash – This is one of those other things you should always have on hand just in case.  Remember Y2K where they said that bank machine’s might not be available, well that can happen at any time.  I always try to have some hidden away for emergencies cause you never know.  I had to get dinner from a restaurant (take away/out) that night so I was glad to have a few bucks in the wallet (I don’t usually carry very much with me, having been mugged once many years ago…).
  7. Work Arrangements – If I didn’t have the ability to work from home, I probably wouldn’t have been able to work at all for a couple of days.  Luckily, I could work from my friends place and dial-in/VPN into the office if I needed too.  However, not everyone has this ability and if they come home and find they need to be relocated for a couple of days.  Consider options with work ahead of time in case crisis occurs. And this isn’t just in case you experience a situation but if the office does as well.  Depending on the nature of your work you may not have that option (i.e. manufacturing, work with paper files etc) but you don’t know what you can do from home if you don’t investigate the options.  If I had stayed at a hotel with the dog, I still would have been able to work…lucky me…I think. 

 

I do have a home safety container with batters, flashlight, some canned food (and the can opener too), candles, matches and other recommended items but it wasn’t that kind of disaster – I didn’t need any of those unless I was staying the night in my sub-zero cold apartment for a couple of days.  This just wasn’t an option in the middle of winter.  But if other circumstances permit I do have an emergency kit that will be of significant use should something befall the neighbourhood.  I even have lots of bottled water for basic hygiene and drinking purposes.  As a contingency professional, what kind of person would I be without it?  My actions wouldn’t match with all the things I tell people. 

            Regardless, consider your options when/if you encounter some difficulties at home.  Sometimes we’re thrown for a loop as well and we need to have our own plans in place to deal with the situation.  Human beings are resilient after all. 

 **NOW AVAILABLE**

 “Heads in the Sand: What Stops Corporations From Seeing Business Continuity as a Social Responsibility” and “Made Again Volume 1 – Practical Advice for Business Continuity Programs”

by StoneRoad founder, A.Alex Fullick, MBCI, CBCP, CBRA, ITILv3

Available at www.stone-road.com, www.amazon.com & www.volumesdirect.com

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