When businesses are impacted by natural disasters, it is difficult for them to fully recover. In fact, one-third of the businesses affected by disasters never reopen. Start building a natural disaster preparedness plan now so you can focus on business continuity and ensure that your business has a plan in place to bounce back quickly if an incident occurs.
How-To Guide for Natural Disaster Preparedness
Be Aware of the Natural Disasters that Could Affect Your Business
The natural disasters that affect California are different from those in Oklahoma. As you create a natural disaster preparedness plan, evaluate the likelihood of each type of natural disaster that could affect your area. The emergency management office or representative in your city may be able to offer assistance with this task.
Determine which areas and functions of your business are most vulnerable to each type of natural disaster and outline necessary action items to minimize the associated risks.
Create a Disaster Response Plan
Assemble a disaster preparedness team with a representative from each department to help:
- Identify vulnerabilities in their respective departments and mitigate the risks
- Create evacuation plans.
- Organize contact lists.
- Designate a meeting place outside of the building.
- Relay information about the natural disaster preparedness plan to employees and the public
- Take charge during an emergency
- Prepare and protect the property.
- Assist with the development of evacuation procedures
- Assess document losses.
- Aid with the recovery
- Test the preparedness, response and recovery plans
Implement Communication Plans
Employees in your business need to know the order of operations to follow when there is a natural disaster. It is important to plan quarterly meetings to inform employees of the natural disaster preparedness, response and recovery plans, which will ensure streamlined communications. Let the workers know the company’s expectations, their individual or departmental responsibilities during the disaster, and plan drills so employees can become familiar with the protocols.
In the disaster plan, outline how the business will communicate to all peoples directly or indirectly affected by the natural disaster. Phone trees, email, and social media are all popular methods to inform emergency workers, insurance companies, property damage restoration companies, employees, customers, the media and other stakeholders.
Backup Documents and Data
Losing essential documents, whether they’re physical or electronic, can be catastrophic for a business. Prevent such losses by:
- Making copies of critical documents and storing the originals in a secure offsite location.
- Scanning and saving important documents, like client files. Save the electronic files on an external drive that you keep offsite or use a cloud-based solution.
- Having employees regularly scan important paperwork as part of a new policy.
- Making copies of licensed software and keeping the originals offsite with their licensing information.
- Backing-up data daily.
Protect the Power
Many natural disasters cause power outages that shut down operations for prolonged periods. Mitigate this risk by investing in a generator or an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system, as well as surge protectors. Emergency power sources can help keep your business operational long enough to safely shutdown your network, prevent damage to computers and other electronics, and evacuate employees safely.
Plan to Recover
A plan for business continuity is just as important as disaster preparedness and response plans. In a business continuity plan, list:
- Important phone numbers.
- Insurance-related information.
- How to determine if the property is safe to enter.
- Contact information for the property damage restoration company.
- When and how to document damage.
- When and how to salvage items.
- The locations of essential documents and electronic files, and how to retrieve them.
- The place where the business will conduct critical activities if the building suffers damage.
Review Your Commercial Insurance Coverage
Make an appointment with your insurance agent to learn what your commercial policy covers, the amount of coverage offered and the business’ deductibles. Make sure you have coverage for incidents like water damage, earthquake damage and business interruptions, as those may require a policy rider. Review the information regarding the property, its value, the number of employees on payroll, your fleet and other assets to make sure you have sufficient coverage.
One of your biggest allies when it comes to natural disaster preparedness is property damage restoration services like those provided by Polygon. We are happy to help your business create a comprehensive preparedness, response and recovery plan so you can resume normal operations as soon as possible after an incident. Call us today to learn more about our services and to register with for our Code Blue Preparedness program free of charge.
Photo by Hey Paul via CC license