Identify potential problemWith our different terrain and climates across Colorado and Wyoming, it’s important to know what the biggest risks to your business from storms will be. In the mountains, wildfires caused by lightning are a major threat. In addition, summer storms can bring torrential rain, which raises the risk of flash flooding, especially if your business is located next to a burn scar from a recent wildfire. On the plains, severe thunderstorms are the biggest threat with frequent lightning, high winds, hail, and the possibility of tornadoes. It’s important to look at both the most common threats from storms in your area and how those threats can impact your business.Get a Plan to Respond and Recover From StormsYour plan for how to approach storms or any other disaster has to include both response and recovery. Your response to a storm is what you do as it is happening. How do you batten down the hatches to keep employees, customers, equipment, and property as safe as possible? Recovery is how you get your business back to full operations. What do you do in order to get employees back to work, equipment back online, and customers coming back in?A response plan starts with communication. When a storm hits, you need to communicate to customers and employees how it will affect your operations. Will you close completely, have reduced operations, or continue without major disruption? If there is damage to your equipment or property, does that shut everything down or can parts of your business stay open? In our more remote communities, especially in the mountains, we also have to consider the effect of storms on the surrounding area. The closure of just a couple of roads, like during the Northern Colorado floods of 2013, can make getting to a town as large as Estes Park extremely difficult.Another critical part of a response plan is how you will protect sensitive information like consumer and financial data. It should both be protected from loss by having off-site backups in case of major damage to your facility or computer systems. But it should also be protected from theft during a disaster which interrupts business operations. You should ensure that a storm blowing out a window or door also does not also expose your customers to loss or theft.With a recovery plan, the goal is to get operations up and running as quickly as possible. That might mean boarding up a few windows and getting back to business, or it might require a longer term plan. Regardless of what your plan is, you should also practice it regularly. Practicing your response and recovery plan not only help make them second nature in a crisis, but also confirm that the elements of your plan work. Keeping backups of important business information is not useful if those backups cannot be quickly and easily restored.Create a Business Contingency PlanIf you’re facing the possibility of a longer term disruption to your business, you’ll want a business contingency plan in place. A business contingency plan goes beyond a response and recovery plan. These plans are designed to help support your business through a lengthy period of recovery and reduced operations. If you have a physical location and it is destroyed and needs to be rebuilt, can your employees work from home for an extended period? Can you find an alternate temporary location while you rebuild? If half of your equipment is damaged and needs to be replaced, how will that impact your employees? Will you have to lay people off or reduce hours significantly, or is there some way to keep everyone on and working a similar amount?Put Everything You Need in PlaceOnce you have assessed the risks and created plans to respond to disasters as well as recovery from both short- and long-term business disruptions, it’s time to put into place all the necessary components of those plans. That may include:Backups of important information;Spare equipment stored offsite;Insurance for both your physical property and to protect against business disruptions;Copies of plans for all your employees; andArrangements for alternative workspace or backup locations.This is not a comprehensive list, but just some ideas to get you started. What your business needs will depend largely on the specific type of work your organization does, the specific threats from summer storms you might experience, and how much flexibility you have before recovering from a storm will risk your entire company.By planning and preparing for both summer storms as well as their aftermath, you can make your business more resilient to weather-related shutdowns. As a bonus, many of these same techniques and preparations will help you through winter storms and other natural or man-made disasters. Ultimately a comprehensive safety plan will allow your business to address all of the most common threats, allow you to respond effectively when a disaster strikes, and recover your operations as quickly and completely as possible.