Disasters wreak havoc in the United States every year. Wildfires, hurricanes and earthquakes not only cripple houses, but also businesses.
Hurricane Harvey cost businesses in Houston up to $15 billion in lost productivity, with up to $10 billion in infrastructure damages. Hurricane Irma destroyed up to 70 percent of Florida’s citrus fields. Hurricane Maria cost Puerto Rico businesses at least $10 billion in lost productivity.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), most businesses don’t realize the value of business continuity planning before it’s too late. They found out that 40 percent of small businesses never recover from a disaster. The agency added that no locations are 100 percent disaster-free, and the effects of natural disasters extend beyond the physical business establishment.
How can businesses prepare better for a natural disaster? The critical task for businesses, especially those in disaster-prone areas, is to have a crisis management plan in place. Whether it’s another tornado, hurricane or wildfire, the damage is almost inevitable.
Crafting a business continuity plan
Business continuity means keeping the business’s personnel and assets protected and functional in times of a disaster. A company’s business continuity plan should identify all the risks that can affect the company’s operations. Disasters can be natural (flooding, fires, earthquakes) or human-inflicted (cyber-attacks).
The plan should also:
- Determine how the risk will affect operations
- Implement procedures to mitigate the risk
- Review the processes to make sure they are up to date
Continuity plans are important in every business because disruptions could mean profit loss.
Insurance will lessen financial burden in the aftermath of a disaster.
For businesses located in disaster-prone areas, getting commercial property insurance is advised. This protects businesses against losses following the destruction of company property due to events like fire, hail and wind storms, smoke, vandalism and civil disobedience.
Protect important data
Natural disasters can wipe out office systems and critical business records so it’s important for businesses to always do a regular backup of their files. Businesses can upload important information to a cloud storage. This ensures businesses don’t have to keep their data on-site.
Storing files on a hard drive will work, as long as the hard drive will be stored off-site.
In 2012, the US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) recommended for businesses to follow the 3-2-1 strategy when backing up data.
3 – Keep three copies of any important file: one primary copy and two backups
2 – Keep the files on two different media types to protect against different types of hazards
1 – Store one copy offsite (outside the business facility)
Businesses, especially those that perform electronic transactions, may seek assistance from their electronic equipment manufacturer or dealer to obtain emergency equipment. For example, a Power-Pac device ensures communication lines will still be running in events like a power outage.
No one is immune to disasters, even million-dollar businesses. Disaster preparedness is about having a robust business continuity and data security plan, maximizing your protection against what would otherwise be inevitable and damaging.