From Hurricane Harvey, to the fires in Oregon, California, and Montana, to the earthquake in Mexico, to the looming threat of category-4 strength Hurricane Irma, recent events have made it only too clear that, in addition to planning to protect human life during a disaster, there must also be safeguards in place to protect the businesses that allow people to make a living.
One of the first safeguards any business should have is a comprehensive business continuity plan, complete with a backup and disaster recovery strategy. This will be touched upon in a little more detail below, but in essence, such a strategy will need to address how a business will ensure that their data and resources are protected or salvageable.
Additionally, it helps to build a checklist of all the considerations you need to take into account. While what follows is by no means a comprehensive list of preparations to take, it should serve as a starting point to your preparation.
BEFORE A HURRICANE STRIKES
- Identify safety hazards and weaknesses around your building and see they are repaired.
- Update and duplicate key information
- Employee phone numbers
- Employee personal emails
- Phone numbers and emails of building management and maintenance
- Ensure that you have taken a backup
- This backup should be hosted off site, ideally in the cloud, safe from the effects of the disaster
- Prepare a business continuity plan
- A copy of this plan should also be stored offsite
- Prepare your office, acquiring supplies and training staff
- Develop emergency procedures for your technology
- Test procedures on a regular basis
WHEN A HURRICANE IS IMMINENT
- Stay connected to news/weather services to remain informed
- Power down anything not managed by an Uninterruptible Power Supply or similar device
- Disconnect all devices, and move any that are located near windows
- Close doors and windows
- Ascertain that your employees are safe
- Implement a check-in policy to ensure your employees remain safe throughout the disaster
- Brace yourself to ride out the disaster
AFTER THE HURRICANE PASSES
- Avoid hazardous conditions in and around your area
- Check for employee injuries
- See that employees receive the help/medical attention they need
- Assess the damage to your business
- Enact your business continuity plan
- Assist the community in recovering
Key Contacts to Have Ready
- Local Hospital:_________________________
- Fire Department:________________________
- Insurance Company/Agent:_________________
- Small Business Administration: 1-800-3592227
- FEMA Tele-registration: 1-800-462-9029
- Small Business Association Guide to Protecting Your Business: https://www.sba.gov/blogs/taking-action-can-protect-your-business-ahead-storm
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/ready.php
- Hurricane Safety Organizations – FEMA Business Preparation Tool Kit: http://hurricanesafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/FEMA_PS-Prep_Toolkit.pdf
- Department of Homeland Security – Plan and Prepare: https://www.dhs.gov/topic/plan-and-prepare-disasters
- Ready.gov – Evacuation Guide:
Nature is a powerful thing, and so the best that we can do is to reinforce ourselves against it and persevere. It is important to remember that of all businesses that go through a major disaster, 40 percent never reopen, and those that do have a 25% chance of closing within two years.
Protecting your business during these dangerous, risk-laden times is imperative.