How to Avoid Digital Disaster in Hurricane Season (and Beyond)

By Andrew Bailey posted 06-26-2013 11:30


By Andrew Bailey, President, Cabinet


Hurricanes and other natural disasters are traumatic enough. With power outages and the potential for damages to your home, the last thing you want to worry about is the safety of your company. Just as we would protect our home and family, we must also have an emergency plan to protect our office and staff.

Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan is paramount in protecting your company in times of disaster.

According to Coopers & Lybrand, 70% of today’s businesses would fail within three weeks of experiencing a disaster. Certain precautions can help prevent your business from bearing the brunt of an incoming storm and protect your staff. Here are a few helpful hints:

1.      Find the safest place in the office

In case of an emergency, employees may need to evacuate the office or relocate to the safest room in the building. Delegate an area beforehand to minimize panic should such an emergency occur. Typically, the safest room in a building is the bathroom or other areas without windows. Huddling in a small windowless room may not be pleasant at the time, but minimizing risk is the top priority. You should also determine the safest room in your home as well.

2.     Create a hurricane preparedness kit

Even if all other precautions have been made, unexpected events still occur. Just in case, every company should have a kit on site. If working from home, keep a kit near your work space. A disaster supply kit should include a battery powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, a whistle to signal for help, a first aid kit, water, and dust masks.

3.     Make an emergency contact list

Having a phone tree or set procedure will allow everyone in the company to be in the know, should an emergency occur. Designate exactly who is expected to come into the office if there is a hurricane or tornado warning. Have a set medium for contacting employees in such an event. Whether relying on email or phone calls make sure that everyone has been informed. Even if someone is not scheduled for work that day, they should still be contacted. Developing an emergency contact plan is essential.

4.     Back up your work (online)

Going paperless is an easy way for a company to ensure the safety of documents and important paperwork. Events such as storms can result in serious physical damage to a building, but that does not have to affect your work. Backing up work online guarantees that the work will not be lost, should a disaster occur.

5.     Use a trusted second party

When backing up, always save to a second party or separate location. Saving everything to a spare hard drive seems like a valid safety net, but if the hard drive is in the same location as the original documents, both may be damaged. For example, if your headquarters is in Tallahassee, Fla., it might be worth your time and investment to save your archived files to the cloud or to a secured physical location in Orlando.

Additionally, inspect your trusted second party thoroughly. Saving every major document for your company is stressful. To minimize stress and assure your businesses’ safety, use a reputable company. Do your homework. Ask questions. Understand their processes before signing on the dotted line. How responsive is their customer service? Are they insured?

6.     Be prepared daily

Hurricane season may run from June 1st to November 30th but small blackouts and other events can happen year round. An office should always have a kit, set procedure and online backup system. Winter brings snowstorms, and tornados or earthquakes might be threats in your corner of the world. Take into account your location and pinpoint exactly what your top risks are.

7.     Plan ahead even if you’re not in a disaster zone

Disasters can occur whether your business is nestled in Tornado Alley or on the Jersey Shore. Regardless of location, you should still save work frequently and develop an emergency plan. In order to assess your greatest risk potential, plan accordingly for floods and other unforeseen events.

Symantec says that 45% of small businesses will lose 40% of their data when disaster strikes. In the event of a natural disaster, planning ahead can save a businesses’ data and the company itself. Overcoming the aftermath of a hurricane or tornado is difficult enough. By backing up work, a company can soften the blow when Mother Nature gets unpredictable.


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