With recent devastation caused by hurricanes in Houston and Florida, the need to prepare for natural disasters should be obvious. Natural disasters are unpredictable and can occur at a moment’s notice.
We usually have a few days of warning before a hurricane strike, but fires, earthquakes, and floods often occur with hardly any notice. Could your business handle a large-scale natural disaster? Or would it cause serious setbacks?
While we can’t avoid or predict disaster, several precautions can save you much heartache if that day ever comes.
1. Know What to Expect
Every region has unique risks. Find out which natural disasters are common in your area. California is prone to earthquakes and wildfires. However, New York has a wider range of risks including hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and blizzards. Knowing what you will face will help you develop a disaster recovery plan.
2. Have a Contingency Plan
In the event of a disaster, you and your employees should know exactly what to do first. The safety of your personnel and customers should always come first. Create an evacuation plan, and test it to ensure your plan is viable.
Do you have a phone tree to inform employees about emergencies? It might be a good idea to implement since not everyone will have access to email in an emergency. Do you have a plan for key personnel to work from home? Put in place a contingency plan if your business location isn’t accessible that people can continue to get critical work done remotely.
3. Back Up All Essential Data
Your company’s data and records can easily be destroyed in a natural disaster. Avoid a permanent loss by backing up your data on cloud servers. Today, there’s no excuse not to have online backups of all data.
4. Emergency Supplies
If your business lost access to any retailers right now, would you be able to function? Keep ample stock that would allow your business to keep running in the event of delivery failures. Make sure you have back up suppliers. I learned this lesson the hard way, and it almost cost us the business.
Don’t just consider business supplies or product either; bottled water, flashlights, and blankets are all valuable to have at your location, in case you, your employees, or customers are unable to leave.
5. Do you have the right insurance
Do you have the right insurance for what you might face? It’s a good thing to check your policies once or twice a year and to take current pictures and video and store them in the cloud. Make sure you have a current inventory of everything. One thing that you might consider is business interruption insurance. It might be the difference between staying in business or not.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.