Gulf coast hurricane warnings remind us that while individuals need to plan ahead for weather-related incidents, businesses have even more preparation to consider. For example - are you able to conduct business offsite - such as billing, sending and receiving payments? Do you have employees set up on automatic pay? Business continuity depends on actions that will cover the disruption in services such as water and electricity, and delays in employees returning to work.
Consider these tips:
Keep phone & email lists of your key employees and customers with you, and provide copies to key staff members.
Back up all computer data frequently throughout the business day. Setup offsite backup for your data.
If you have a voice mail system at your office, designate one remote number on which you can record messages for employees. Provide the number to all employees.
Arrange for programmable call forwarding for your main business line(s). Then, if you can't get to the office, you can call in and reprogram the phones to ring elsewhere.
If you may not be able to get to your office quickly after an emergency, leave keys and alarm code(s) with a trusted employee or friend who is closer.
Access business "re-entry permits" from local county or city government offices. These will allow you & key personnel to re-enter business districts and restricted areas during recovery processes.
Install emergency lights that turn on when the power goes out. They are inexpensive and widely available at building supply retailers.
Use UL-listed surge protectors and battery backup systems. They will add protection for sensitive equipment and help prevent a computer crash if the power goes out.
Complete an inventory of all IT computer related hardware & software.
Complete an inventory of all computer & non-computer generated business forms used.
Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature. Keep it on and when the signal sounds, listen for information about severe weather and protective actions to take.
Stock a minimum supply of the goods, materials and equipment you would need for business continuity.
Consult with your insurance agent about precautions to take for disasters that may directly impact your business. Remember, most policies do not cover earthquake and flood damage.
Protect valuable property and equipment with special riders. Discuss business continuity insurance with your agent.
Create a phone list for temporary office space. Previously, one of the most difficult issues surrounding a formal disaster plan was locating suitable office space, securing telecommunication lines, and acquiring office equipment.
Keep a copy of all disaster recovery plans, data backup, phone numbers, lists, and necessary paperwork in a secure location off site.
Keep emergency supplies handy, including...
Flashlights with extra batteries, First aid kit. and tools.
Food and water for employees and customers to use during a period of unexpected confinement at your business.
Trash bags to cover up computer and technical equipment
National Weather Service
www.weather.gov or www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/
Credit: Bonita Springs (FL) Area Chamber of Commerce
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