A Business Guide to Surviving Any Natural Disaster

2017 was a catastrophic year full of devastating storms. Harvey, Irma, Maria, Jose. The list of last year’s now-infamous hurricanes unfortunately goes on.

And as the rain and wind in 2018 continue to hammer down (many are still suffering setbacks of Hurricane Florence), it’s more important than ever to educate and prepare for inclement weather.

As a business owner, it can seem like spending time preparing for something out of your control is a waste of time. Or trivial. Especially in comparison to bringing in leads, serving customers, and improving general business.

But having a plan of action for natural disasters could be the difference between an organization sinking or swimming. Without a doubt, it is something any good business leader should have but hope to never use. Here are a few tips to help protect you from even the rainiest of days.

When it comes to being prepared for Mother Nature, checklists are your best friend.

1. Be Proactive
This is so important. Don’t wait until the eye of the storm is over your business to start reacting. Take charge. Make a preparation checklist. Check the weather reports regularly, especially during peak hurricane season. Purchase any gear or groceries you need BEFORE stores start to run out of everything and mobs of people begin fighting over bread, water, and generators.

2. Protect the Property
This one is a given. It’s in your best interest to do everything within your power to reduce property damage (and thus hopefully reduce repair costs). This can include sandbagging areas that have a high flood risk or installing shutters or plywood to windows and doors. You may also want to consider removing surrounding tree branches that could potentially fall on your building.

3. Protect the Gear
Inclement weather hardly ever equals good news for hardware. Whether you’re preparing for a flood, hurricane, tornado, or an earthquake, one thing remains constant: protect your gear.

Electronics are valuable, fragile, and expensive to replace. Take precautions as early as possible to avoid having to buy your whole staff brand new desktops. Move gadgets to an elevated area if you’re expecting floodwaters. Put them in the safest room in your office (one with no windows is ideal). Make sure to shut down computers and unplug machines, cables, and power surges.

Certain tech like external hard drives often hold lots of valuable and irreplaceable information and data. Which brings us to our next, very important, tip.

3. Back Up Data
Boy, is this a big one. Even if you are lucky enough to suffer no property damage, there is always a huge risk of losing important company data, customer insights, contact information, contracts, etc. And while it is challenging to recover from physical damage, losing crucial business documentation could be the end of your organization.

The easiest and most secure way to backup electronic data is by saving files to an external hard drive and then keep that hard drive with you. Do not leave it at the office. Wherever you go, the hard drive goes, too.

What data can your business absolutely NOT function without? Find out, then be sure to back it up on your hard drive.

4. Digitize Everything
Insurance is an old-school business. The industry is changing as insurtech continues to explode, but there will always be a few folks who still don’t do everything electronically. For the most part, this isn’t a problem. But where inclement weather is concerned it can be a huge issue.

If you have valuable paper documents, scan them ASAP and then save those files to the hard drive mentioned in tip #3. It’s still wise to place the physical documents in a Ziploc bag and store them in a dry area while you ride out the storm. But if they get swept away with the rain/wind/whatever, it’s not the end of the world…as long as you have a digital copy on your hard drive, of course.

Companies are constantly at risk. They are at risk of losing money, stagnant business, fierce competition, and on and on the list goes. Sometimes risk is outside of our control, but being proactive and preparing for the worst of Mother Nature is totally and completely within our power. There are no excuses.

According to an August 2017 article by the Associated Press, Hurricane Harvey damaged nearly 700 business in Texas alone. Each natural disaster means every business in the storm’s path is on the chopping block. So it’s up to you as your business’ leader to heed our advice and weather each storm before they arrive at your office door.

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Jillian Ho-Lung