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Preparing For Disaster Recovery

Aug 17, 2007
Disasters can happen any time and anywhere. Chemical spillage from overturned trucks, power outages, brownouts or surges, windstorms, tornadoes and earthquakes can affect your business adversely. Prepare your employees and clients to respond to any possible disaster in advance by providing training and safety information. No business should operate without a disaster plan or back up systems. Develop risk or contingency management plans, while considering human resources, physical resources and business continuity.

Building a Plan
Keep phone lists of key employees and customers handy with copies of the same for key staff members.

Designate and provide one remote number on your office voice mail system to record messages for employees.

Have programmed call forwarding for main business lines. If you cannot get to the office, call in and reprogram the phones to ring elsewhere.

Install emergency lights that turn on in case of power outage.

Make sure the employees can leave the premises without a key and do not get locked in.

Use UL-listed surge protectors and battery back-up systems to protect sensitive equipment and help prevent computer crashes due to power blackouts.

Keep NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature for early severe weather warning so protective actions can be taken.

Stock a minimum supply of goods, material or equipment for business continuity, even through disaster.

Protect valuable property and equipment with insurance.

In case of unexpected confinement at your business, keep emergency supplies like a first aid kit, tools, flashlights, food and water to tide over the crisis.

Reducing Potential Damage to Property
Prevent or reduce damage in your work area by taking a few precautions.

Bolt tall bookcases or display cases to wall studs.

Keep large objects secured on lower shelves to prevent fall and resulting injury.

Fasten breakable objects with hook and loop fasteners on stands.

Keep drawers and cabinets latched to prevent flying open and spilling contents.

Secure framed pictures and mirrors to the wall with closed screw eyes.

Install flexible connectors to appliances fuelled by natural gas.

Have shutters to close windows against severe storms or hurricanes.

Install automatic fire sprinklers.

A Business Continuation Plan
A disaster plan for your business should aim to achieve the minimum dislocation and have the business up and running with a minimum loss of time and resources. Below is a list of some suggested measures.

Appoint a second in command who has full authority to take decisions in your absence.

All members of your team should be clear about their responsibilities.

Have standbies for your main computer. Back-up copies of data should be kept at a different site. Critical paper records should be well protected.

Designate and train one staff member in each work shift as a safety coordinator. The safety coordinator should contact the owner and operator in times of emergency.

Contact your local Red Cross Chapter to teach you preparation against disaster.

Being prepared at all times for an event that cannot be predicted requires careful forethought and detailed planning. You will reap handsome dividends if you map out and implement a disaster recovery plan for your business. Do take all employees on board about the details of the plan and the various roles they are required to perform. Rehearsals or mock drills should also be carried out to test the efficacy of your plan.
About the Author
David Gass is President of Business Credit Services, Inc. His company publishes a free weekly e-newsletter on Small Business Consulting at their web site http://www.smallbusinessconsulting.com.
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