Ice age a reminder that disaster plans matter
If 50-plus consecutive hours of below-zero temperatures, too many leaking (or worse) water pipes, company vehicles that really don't want to start, drippy ceilings and electrical power that is sometimes on and sometimes off didn't plant the idea that when the weather warmed and the floors dried it would be a good idea to review your business' approach to natural and other disasters, here's your next chance.
Finding good resource material is a bit difficult:
• Your trade association or chamber may be a planning resource.
• Your business insurance rep should have material. So should your attorney.
• The SBA has good Prepare for Emergencies material at https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/manage-your-business/prepare-emergencies. Also take a look at the emergency preparedness section at https://www.sba.gov/node/4633.
• Take a look, too, at FedEx's Emergency Preparedness Checklist, http://www.fedex.com/us/smallbusiness/FERC_smallbus_pdf_120809.pdf.
Pick the resources that seem to make the most sense for your situation and go from there. Ask for input from local police and fire departments.
The following general thoughts also might help the planning process:
• Protecting your business' data is important, and backing up that data in one format or another should be something you already do.
• Protecting your people matters more.
• Put together at least a small group of employees to help develop the recovery plan. They'll think of safety and protection issues you won't. The ultimate goals should be to provide whatever support employees may need and to get your business back in operation as quickly and as safely as possible.
A list of potential temporary locations perhaps should be part of your recovery plan.
• Make certain every employee knows the best ways out of your facility -- the main exit and at least one alternative.
• Designate a meeting place where employees gather as soon as they are out of the building. You'll want to count heads, to determine whether anyone is missing.
Depending on company size, two of your employees should be designated to record employee presence, keep track of any injuries and the like.
• Have an accessible contact list: Employee names, matched with family members who should be contacted and their contact phone numbers. Hopefully, the calls you make will be of the Jack is OK variety.
• Disasters come in all forms: Floods, especially if your location is near a river or creek; fire -- from lightning strikes, faulty equipment, or wind that knocks power lines onto your building; earthquakes; an active shooter; natural gas leaks or explosions.
Nearly every business is vulnerable to cyber attacks, especially businesses that house sensitive patient or client data. Regardless of the specifics, if you and your IT guru -- an internal IT manager or an outside consultant -- haven't put together a defend-and-respond plan, you likely should.