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Preparing Your Business for a Major Disaster

2012 February 13

Each year it seems that more and more natural disasters spring up everywhere across the world and across the country, and thousands of lives at a time are left in shambles, many families with nothing left after disaster strikes and many businesses that can’t continue operating.

If you’re a business owner, is your business prepared just in case of a disaster? If you’re an employee, do you know what your company is doing to prepare for the worst? Taking the proper steps to insure your business is ready in a worst case scenario can be key to maintaining the business post-disaster, and here are some easy steps you can take to make sure your business is ready.

Know What Is Essential

If you’re an online retailer, your main priority is your computer and your business absolutely could not function without it. If you’re part of a large, multi-national corporation, your contacts are probably a vital ingredient to your success. Whatever your job is and whatever your business does, knowing which little parts of it are necessary for business survival is the first, and probably most important, step in disaster planning.

Take the time to think about what the most important assets of your business are, what the things are that keep business booming. If you know what they are ahead of time, you’ll be able to replace them more quickly and easily immediately following a disaster so you can start your recovery right away. If you’re unprepared and don’t know where to start after disaster hits, you’ll probably regret skipping over this step, so take the time and do it now.

Keep Everything Backed Up

If a storm or a flood hits, chances are, you may lose power to your business, and in some extreme cases, this could become a permanent problem. Before anything can go wrong, back up all of your important information onto an external storage device, and store the device away from the office. Small external hard drives can fit in a purse or brief case, and it’s not a bad idea to bring such devices home with you every day after work.

With all of your important information with you at all times, nothing can happen that will stop you from operating as a functional business owner or employee at any given time. Keep things like contacts, data and any other important information backed up, and do so on a regular basis.

Consider a Safe Room

Building a safe room isn’t a bad idea for any business that’s in a well-known path of destruction. Businesses in the midwest, for example, know that they are likely going to encounter a tornado at some point. Californians should be prepared for earthquakes, and people in the southeast know they are prone to hurricanes. Having a safe room can protect you and your employees from any disaster that strikes on short notice.

A safe room will protect everyone in your company from high winds, terrential rain and terrorizing thunder and lightning strikes that occur out of the blue. Items in your business can be replaced, but the people, obviously, cannot be.

Check Your Insurance

Go over your insurance policy in thorough detail with an agent who will map out all of the fine print. Oftentimes you’ll see that something like hazard insurance, for example, doesn’t necessarily cover flood damage.

Check and re-check your policy often to make sure you thoroughly understand what you are and are not covered for. If you’re not covered for something under your current plan or plans, get some insurance to cover that aspect, too. Have hard copies of every insurance policy that covers you, and keep the records away from the office. You can never be too safe or too prepared.

Formulate A Plan

Make sure every person that works for you or with you knows the plan in case of an emergency. Every person in the building should know exit route plans, safe room plans or lockdown plans.

Go over the emergency plans with the entire staff once every couple of months. If anything changes, notify the staff immediately and make sure everyone is aware that a change has been made. When a disaster strikes, people with a plan will know how to handle themselves in a safe and organized manner. Without a plan, the scene can quickly turn to chaos and panic.

Check the Roof

If you’re a business owner, make sure the roof of your building is safe and secure, and check it regularly to insure that it is. A good, solid roof will be the starting point to keeping your business and the people inside of it safe during a disaster.

If your roof has any cracks, holes or breaks, have them replaced immediately after they appear.

Have A Rebuilding Plan

In the case of an actual disaster occurring, having a plan ahead of time to help you rebuild your business and eventually maintain it once again will be key. With enough planning, anything can be revived.

Make sure everyone in the company knows what the plan is in terms of what can be done for the business immediately after a disaster. With everyone’s cooperation, your business’ recovery time can be minimized.

The bottom line here is that you can’t ever be too prepared for a disaster, and in fact the more ready you and your employees or you and your bosses are, the easier the business will be able to recover afterwards.

Sara Stevens is a freelance writer for several business and education publications. She works closely with Maintenance Partner, a company specializing in planned preventative maintenance. She has been through her fair share of disasters and knows that preparation is key to rebuilding in the future.

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Eric Constantineau – www.ericconstantineau.com

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