Are You Prepared if Disaster Struck?

Posted on 16. Aug, 2011 by in Misc. Articles, VirtualConnections Newsletter

This post has been modified from its original version. (October 2013)

With so many small business owners working from their home offices, it is so important to think about what a disaster can do to your business. A disaster can strike at any time and does not necessarily have to be weather related.

Here in New Jersey we have been warned over the years of the threat of a hurricane hitting our shores and unfortunately we learned first hand how devastating Mother Nature can be when Superstorm Sandy hit on October 29th, 2013.

Thankfully, I did not suffer any property damage but I was without power and cell phone service for 9 days. I travelled to a café that did have power and utilized their internet service so I can communicate with my team and clients. I was not able to travel often though because gas stations in my immediate area were unable to pump gas and those in the areas with power had gas lines for miles. My team kicked into action and were able to communicate with my clients and service their needs during my downtime.

Looking back, those 9 days were the longest 9 days of my life. Not knowing if this was the day our power would be restored was hard but we witnessed people coming together to help their neighbor. Neighbors who also suffered losses, doing what they can for those that lost everything. We truly saw the American Spirit. We still have a long way to go one year later but the Jersey Shore will be back and better than ever.

So please block time on your calendar to prepare your Emergency Disaster Plan. To help you get started, here are some things to think about:

  • Off-site backup: Do you have an off-site back up of your computer files? There are several companies offering this service such as Backblaze, Mozy, CrashPlan, Carbonite, DropBox and even Intuit.
  • Legal documents: Be sure your important legal documents such as Passport, Will and Living Will, Business Succession Plan and Incorporation Papers are either stored in a fireproof filing cabinet, safe or safe deposit box at your bank.
  • Insurance Policies: When was the last time you reviewed your insurance coverage? Do you have adequate coverage? Does your homeowner’s policy cover your business equipment? Most homeowner policies do not and require you to purchase supplemental insurance for business equipment. Schedule time to speak with your insurance agent to be sure you are adequately insured.
  • Inventory of your personal possessions as well as your business equipment: Take photos of your household possessions and home office equipment. Insurance companies will also require serial numbers in order for easier processing of any claims. To make this process easier, there is software specifically for recording your home inventory. You can find them by searching for home inventory software online.
  • Software Licenses: In case of a fire and your computer is destroyed, what about your software? As we all know, software can get quite expensive if we have to repurchase lost programs. Document all the software on your computer including the version and serial number. This may be a good project for you to give to your son or daughter while home on their summer break.
  • Financial information and filed tax returns: These documents are also just as important as your legal papers and should be stored in fireproof cabinets or a safe as well as making sure your computerized accounting program is backed up on a regular basis and stored off-site.
  • Emergency Supplies Kit: Be sure to put together your Emergency Supply Kit which should include at least a 3-day supply of bottled water, canned, non-perishable food, a battery operated radio, flashlight and extra batteries, first aid kit, manual can opener, needed prescription medications, cash and any special needs items.

FEMA has a very informative website (Ready.gov) including a sample emergency plan, computer inventory form and an emergency supplies checklist in helping you prepare for a disaster. Also check with your state’s Office of Emergency Management. They offer assistance specific to the emergencies that may strike your area as well as resources and emergency contact phone numbers.

It may be a large undertaking now, but if disaster strikes, it will be well worth the time and effort you put into it. Insurance claims will process faster as well as you getting your business back up and running.

Additional Resources:

The following are just a few agencies and organizations that provide disaster advice and assistance:

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Their phone number is 1-800-480-2520. Website www.fema.gov and as mentioned above they do have extensive information about preparing for and responding to emergencies.

American Red Cross. Visit www.redcross.org to enter your zip code in the red Find Your Local Red Cross area. You will find a section on their website, Together We Prepare along with facts and tips on disaster preparedness.

Salvation Army. Visit www.salvationarmyusa.org to find your local Salvation Army office.

Volunteers of America. To find a local office, visit www.voa.org or call 1-800-899-0089.

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. This website lists other national and state organizations that can help. Visit www.nvoad.org.

THB_Consult_CTA

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