When Disaster Strikes: Nothing Else Matters

Emergency PlanningEnvision the unimaginable: a terrorist plot successfully carried out in your store. A natural disaster of such force that it leaves your store in shambles. Who in your organization would be prepared to take action? How would their actions impact the outcome? Would panic or order prevail?

Loss prevention professionals conduct critical activities on a daily basis; activities that salvage the retailer’s bottom line. And while these daily activities of a loss prevention manager are critical, even more significant may be the time and effort spent on emergency planning and preparedness. Some retailers minimize this effort, considering disasters a remote possibility and emergency planning a distraction from daily activities. But the truth is that these efforts can mean the difference between life and death, injury and safety, panic and order.

Loss Prevention Not Just About the Bottom Line but Also Emergency Planning

When disaster strikes, nothing else matters. Instantly, saving lives, comforting people, instilling order and protecting property become the priorities. The urgency and severity of the situation demand full and complete attention, and minimize the importance of anything else. Consider how prepared your organization is, and how you can better prepare for the unexpected. The greater the planning and practice efforts, the more likely that the best possible life-saving decisions will be made in a crisis. In a vacuum, with no emergency planning in place, the situation can quickly deteriorate into panic, or rely on a single individual’s ability to cope, lead and instruct. This not only applies to the moment of tragedy, but also in the aftermath.

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Retailers with emergency planning in place and supported by a crisis management philosophy in the company are able to react in meaningful ways, helping to connect and ensure the safety of employees, providing invaluable supplies to victims, and reacting with leadership for the surrounding community in a time of crisis. When these situations present themselves, loss prevention’s preparedness will be the most important thing for the retail brand, the employees who work there, possibly for the devastated community, and certainly for their careers; retailers should consider that when weighing the importance of investing time, resources and training in emergency preparedness. It can and will be hard to place a high level of importance on disaster readiness in budget planning sessions where such an event seems “unlikely.” It is in just these situations where LP leaders can demonstrate their own special brand of courageous leadership.


Eric White leads the retail strategy practice at Wren, providers of physical security solutions used by some of the world’s most innovative and respected retailers.  White has 20 years experience in loss prevention, asset protection and physical security, having served at Walmart and The Home Depot.White writes about his experiences in the Wren blog.  White can be reached at eric.white@wrensolutions.com. To learn more about Wren’s solutions, visit www.wrensolutions.com.

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