Our office weathered a hurricane last year with absolutely no damage, but a recent severe rainstorm caused a flood and threatened to damage some equipment that is vital to our day-to-day operations. Fortunately, I was still at the office that late afternoon when the deluge streamed over the sheetrock, down the wall, and onto my desk – splattering my computer, telephone, and other electronics with copious amounts of water.

With some help, I was able to move everything important out of harm’s way and only the carpet was damaged, but those circumstances got me thinking…is my business adequately prepared in the event of a disaster? Is the plan I have in place sufficient to keep my business up and running should a flood, fire, or other catastrophe occur?

According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40 percent of businesses do not reopen after a disaster of any kind. Don’t let your business become a statistic – have a plan in place, just as you would for your home or family – when disaster strikes.

In this blog post, we’re sharing a checklist of steps your business needs to take to prepare for a disaster. With an appropriate plan in place, your business will be protected.

• Assess Your Risk. A risk assessment entails identifying potential hazards and analyzing what could happen if a hazard occurs. A thorough risk assessment can help you protect your business against most potential threats.
• Create a Written Disaster Preparedness Plan. Create a detailed plan of action specific to your business and put it in writing. Keep a copy of your plan in a safe location outside of the office.
• Share Your Disaster Preparedness Plan. Review your plan in detail with your employees. Make sure they have a copy – electronic and written – of the plan. Modify your plan as needed, and keep everyone informed of plan updates.
• Determine an Alternate Work Location. Plan for another location where core employees can conduct critical business functions in the event of a disaster.
• Have a Backup Plan in Place. Back your files up online, and store them in the cloud. Find a service that works automatically and continually in the background and transmits your protected files to offsite servers.
• Protect Your Assets. If possible, take measures to buffer your facility against natural disasters. Keep a comprehensive, current inventory of the items and equipment used in your business.
• Review Your Insurance Coverage. Have your business appraised at least every five years, and have copies of insurance policies and customer service phone numbers in a safe place. Consider getting business interruption insurance. NOTE: Flood damage requires separate coverage and is not included with typical policies.
• Don’t Become Complacent. Disasters can happen anywhere at any time, so do not assume that because it hasn’t happened that it won’t happen. Taking a proactive approach and planning for the events could make the difference between losing your business or resuming operations and being up and running in a short time frame.

Although this list isn’t comprehensive, it’s a good start to making sure your business is protected in the event of a disaster. The most important thing is to have a plan in place – know ahead of time what you will do if disaster strikes.