Is Your Business Prepared for Irma?

  
     
September 06, 2017

How quickly your company can get back to business after a major hurricane will depend on your Disaster Recovery Plan.  Your business needs to have an effective plan on how to recover from a major hurricane.  If you have no plan, it may take only one such event to put you out of business.  Your BBB provides you with comprehensive resources so you can prepare your business to help minimize any potential disasters or downtime.

As a BBB Accredited Business, your company has committed to go above and beyond when it comes to serving your customers.  Your Better Business Bureau would like to thank you for your continuous commitment to higher ethical standards in the marketplace, especially in times when consumers need it the most.  We hope Hurricane Irma will change course and steer clear from Florida, but know that should our communities be affected, consumers will know where to Start With Trust and seek out companies like you through BBB.

BBB’s Florida Hurricane Guide (https://www.bbb.org/florida-hurricane-guide/) provides a one stop resource page to help Florida's consumers, businesses and nonprofits prepare for a hurricane.  Within this guide, you will find tips on disaster preparedness, recovery and repair; how to avoid storm chaser scams; giving wisely to disaster relief charities; and additional government resources.  Please take a moment to review this guide and share with your employees and customers.   Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact your Better Business Bureau.

Below is a quick checklist to help you get started:

¨  Have an Emergency Plan. Make sure employees understand what the plan of action is for your company in the event of a weather emergency, and that everyone is aware of your company's evacuation procedures. Make sure staff with specific responsibilities have what they need to effectively manage their roles in the event of a disaster.  Who is responsible for doing what?  Can employees work remotely?

¨  Create a Communication Plan. Make sure you have an updated list of employee contact information. In the case of a natural disaster, you may not be able to depend on cell phones to communicate with employees, so create alternative means of connecting with them and test it out.  Be Transparent and let your customers know when your business will be closed and the status during and after the hurricane.

¨  Have Battery Backups. If the power goes out, make sure you have uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units attached to your critical electronic devices and computers. You should also load test the battery backups to make sure there is enough battery to safely shutdown the equipment it is supposed to protect.  Fully charge cell phones, laptop computers and other electronics and backup batteries. Unplug all major, non-vital appliances to protect them from power surges.

¨  Document your Assets. Videotape or photograph the interior and exterior of the building; this will assist you in verifying insurance and tax credits claims.  Assemble insurance policies’ financial records’ inventories and other important documents.  Make duplicates and store in alternative places.

¨  Protect Important Paper Documents.  Remember to Safeguard your customers Privacy by protecting their data.  Put Important papers in watertight containers and place away from windows and the floor.  If you are able to duplicate or relocate important contracts, records and other documents, while still abiding by record keeping legislation, then do so.    

¨  Have Another Place to Work From.  It’s important to Be Responsive to your customers and maintain trust in the marketplace.  Think about other places your employees can work from should your current office become inoperable during or after a storm. If you expect your employees to be able to work from home, make sure they are equipped to do so.  Also arrange to pay employees in advance while banking institutions are still operable.

¨  Secure and Protect Equipment. Remove any computers and power cords from the floor. Anchor and brace any large furniture to wall studs. Secure electronics such as computers and other office equipment with straps or Velcro. If you’re worried about leaks, protect your electronics with plastic covers or tarps.  Store company vehicles at a more secure location.  Bring in all outdoor signs, display racks, and any other loose objects normally left outside and secure all items that cannot be brought inside.

¨  Prepare your Building.  Verify your business meets specified building codes.  Notify local authorities that the building will be vacant if an alarm has been activated or if a guard or security detail will be present.  Clean drains, gutters, and downspouts of the building.  Install shutters over glass doors and windows, or use protective material such as plywood (at least 1/2 inch).  Make sure that plywood is flush against the wall and tight; any movement will allow wind entry.   Secure first floor doorways with sandbags, duct tape or heavy plastic to protect interior from possible flooding.  Inspect all emergency equipment (i.e. fire equipment, first aid kits, etc.) and replace any faulty or missing items.  Test and service the building’s emergency power generator under load.   Repair any leaks in ceilings, walls, doors and windows.  Close and lock all windows; draw the blinds or drapes.  Turn off the circuit breaker for all electricity, except for refrigeration, and lock all doors when you leave.  Take into account beforehand how this may affect your alarm system.

¨  Backup Files and Servers. Your data is absolutely critical to your business.  Reliable backups for your data is key. You should have both onsite and cloud backups and they should be tested regularly.  Search BBB.org for a business that can assist you in backing up your computer files.  Also back up your data to an external hard drive and keep it with you in a safe place.