By Vitiello Communications Group

With hurricanes and wildfires making the headlines, personal preparedness during times of disaster is vital for everyone—at home, at work and even on vacation. My sister learned this firsthand when she and my brother-in-law were among the 30,000 tourists-turned-refugees in Los Cabos, Mexico, earlier this month.

Hurricane Odile made landfall on September 14 and cut an unexpected path of destruction along the entire length of the Baja Peninsula. No power, spotty Wi-Fi and an inoperable airport meant tourists were stranded with limited means of communication. The situation was dire and would have been even worse for my sister were it not for the careful planning on the part of hotel management at the Fiesta Americana Grand where she was staying. Here’s what the staff did:

Planned for the worst. A week before Odile hit, the hotel manager considered the worst-case scenario and planned for a catastrophic event. He stockpiled food, checked generators and made plans to shelter some 600 guests along with hotel employees and their families. As a result, everyone remained safe, had a lounge chair with bedding to sleep on, and received three meals a day in the storm’s aftermath. Fans were even set up on the fourth day when the heat in crowded sleeping quarters became unbearable.

Communicated. With the hotel severely damaged from the storm, it was evident that guests would need to remain sheltered. Management held two mandatory meetings each day to apprise guests of the efforts being made to keep them safe and help them return home.

Had a back-up plan. When water caused the ceiling in the main ballroom to collapse, guests were quickly led to other protected areas, and future meal service was relocated to a concrete loading dock. During the time that my sister was unable to communicate, family and friends spent five worry-filled days waiting for her return. Instagram proved to be a lifeline for information and pictures from the region. A search of #HurricaneOdile reassured me of the general safety of hotel guests and even enabled me to gather information about airlift options, which I relayed to my sister when Wi-Fi returned to the hotel.

Today is National PrepareAthon Day. My sister’s experience reinforces the importance of being prepared to stay safe. As part of my own disaster planning, I ordered a solar panel phone charger, which will help me stay connected during an emergency. To see what others are doing, check out #PrepareAthon on Twitter.

Disaster can strike anytime. Tell us what you are doing to be prepared for yourself and for your employees.

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