Summer time, and the living is easy. Unless, of course, you find yourself smack dab in the middle of a hurricane. It’s been almost a year and the Houston area is still trying to rebuild from our run-in with Ike last fall. The media is taking steps to help prepare citizens for another storm but this advice is mainly focused on getting your house in order. This month we wanted to offer some tips for preparing your business, just in case we are faced with another hurricane this season.
The most common mistake is not planning for a potential disaster. Remember, up until now you’ve invested in building your business – financially and emotionally – so now’s not the time to cut corners. Plus, disaster planning does not require a million dollar solution. You just need a common sense plan that protects you, your employees and your business.
• Build solid contact lists and keep the information updated and accessible for your employees. Include key vendors and suppliers, and emergency service organizations like the local fire and police departments, hospital and ambulance services, building services and government relief agencies. Make sure your contact lists include alternate phone numbers in case one is not accessible. When building your contact list get as much information as possible – relatives’ contact information, alternative communication devices, etc.
• Back-up all of your critical data and move the media to an off-site storage facility.
• Designate an out-of-town phone number where employees can leave an “I’m Okay” message in a catastrophic disaster.
• The number one rule in disaster planning is to protect your most valuable assets: your people and your data. Secondly, you’ll want to make some plans for when, where and how your people will get back to work.
• Determine which members of your staff you will need to carry out hurricane preparations and who you can reasonably expect to be available.
• Review your list of major equipment and furnishings to determine which items need to be protected or removed and record how you plan to do it. The basic choice is to try to protect your equipment and furnishings in-place or move them out of the area which is at risk. In either case, determine what equipment and manpower will be needed to relocate these items. If you plan to protect equipment in-place, move it to well-protected interior rooms on floors above the level of potential flooding.
While evacuation is an option for many, ‘hunker down’ is the option for most small businesses, property managers and chief engineers. If a hurricane rolls into town it’s not necessary to go into panic mode. Plan your disaster so you can work your disaster.
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