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.

Information in this journal post is for general informational purposes only. Nothing in this journal post should be taken as legal advice for your individual situation. Viewing of this journal post and/or contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send confidential information to us until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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