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You’ve worked hard opening and running your business. Losing it to a disaster would be financially devastating for you — and for your employees. Would you know what to do if disaster struck your business? One of the most important steps you can take in running your business is creating a disaster preparation, prevention and recovery plan.

The following guide can help you to determine what you need to include in your plan to make sure your business is protected against common threats, prepared for natural and other disasters and can quickly recover should an unpreventable event occur.

  1. Make a list of assets. First, you need to make a list of all your physical business assets that could be lost in a disaster. These may include:
    • Building(s)
    • Equipment
    • Furniture
    • Vehicle(s)
    • Product inventory
    • Cash
    • Financial, customer and other operational data
    • Physical documents
  2. Identify Risk. Determine which types of threats can damage or destroy your assets. Some of the following may not affect your area, but any that could impact the operation of your business need to be considered.
    • Earthquake, tornado, tsunami, or hurricane
    • An electrical surge or outage
    • Fire
    • Hacking, viruses, and other cyber attacks
    • Rain and flooding
    • A spill of hazardous substances
    • Terrorism
  3. Determine the steps you will take to protect your assets from disasters. Take each threat and each asset, then analyze how you can prevent or prepare for the various disasters that might affect those assets.
    Personnel
    Employee safety should be a top priority of your disaster plan. Create a plan for the protection/evacuation of your employees during natural or man-made events that could affect their safety.

    • Assign and train employees, based on their personal skills, to be prepared to take specific actions in the event of a physical threat.
    • Bring in a professional to train a number of employees to perform CPR and other first aid measures.
    • Determine escape routes and safe areas employees should use, depending on the type of physical threat.
    • Post a plan of these routes in a prominent place so employees are reminded of them and can know them instinctively.
    • Include instructions for turning off utilities such as gas, water, and HVAC systems.
    • Assign individuals to help ensure that an escape or safety plan is implemented properly.
    • Practice this plan and make sure new employees are trained on it as part of their orientation.
    • Post emergency phone numbers for police, fire, poison control, etc.
    • Add safety equipment — including first aid kits, Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs), fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and shelter-in-place supplies — to your facility.
    • Maintains an emergency personnel file on each employee with important medical data, and names of emergency contacts.

    Physical Assets
    Meet with your insurance provider to understand what is and is not covered in the case of various types of disasters.

    • Determine the cost involved in expanding coverage to make sure your assets are insured in case of each type of loss.
    • Make copies of important printed documents — such as deeds and other legal documents — and put the originals in a safe deposit box at your bank.
    • Take photos of all physical assets, put them on a CD, DVD or flash drive, and store it in your safe deposit box. Businesses that have an inventory of their belongings, with pictures, typically receive higher insurance payments from losses and receive them faster.
    • If your business is in an area threatened by severe natural storms, consider making building enhancements so your building(s) can better withstand these threats.

    Data
    The financial, customer, and operational information on your network is the heart of your operation. Ensuring that it cannot be lost is the best action you can take to quickly get your operation up and running again.

    Moving your operations and data to a cloud service provider not only protects that data in case of a disaster, but can also significantly enhance the productivity, collaboration, and functionality of your business.

    Cloud services, such as Intermdia, offer business services — including hosted Exchange, Hosted PBX and Securisync® — that let you communicate, collaborate, manage content and run your business applications. Today’s highly mobile environment, with employees accessing data from their PCs, smartphones, and tablets, makes that access easy, yet keeps your data safe and secure and away from your physical location so it’s not affected by any natural or man-made disaster.

    Getting Help
    There are several governmental and charitable agencies ready to help in times of a disaster. The Small Business Administration is prepared to assist, with programs such as their National Response Framework (NRF), National Disaster Recovery Framework (NDRF) and Disaster Loan Making (DLM) process. Their Disaster Oversight Council/Executive Management Team oversees the direction and support of the disaster loan process during disasters and coordinates DLM and continuity of operations (COOP).

By addressing all the above issues in your plan, your business can prevent damages from some possible threats, be better prepared for other disasters, and be in a position to quickly get your operations back up and running.

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