When we think about tornado preparedness, personal safety is often the first thing that comes to mind. But is your business prepared to survive a tornado?
Developing a business continuity plan can help you in the unlikely event that your business is severely impacted by a tornado. Here are a few things to consider.
The first thing to plan for is how your business will be alerted of a tornado. Are you relying on employees’ cell phones for weather notifications? Do they have access to their phones throughout the day? Is there a designated person to warn others of an impending tornado? A battery-operated weather alarm that is monitored by a designated employee is a good solution. Make sure to train the designated employee on when and how to alert others of the tornado. In a small business, word of mouth with a checklist may be sufficient; large organizations may want to have an email or phone list.
Where would your employees go for shelter? As in homes, a basement makes for a good shelter. Some businesses have been known to build reinforced safe rooms in the middle of their building as a shelter. These safe rooms can be used every day as bathrooms or storage rooms. Just make sure there’s enough room for your personnel to gather inside.
Do you have customers at your location? If you do, you’ll want to make sure there’s room in your safe room/basement for them as well.
Secondary to human life is the continuation of your business. But what are some things you can do to ensure your business survives a tornado?
Do you have space to put vehicles or other movable equipment indoors before the tornado arrives? Having indoor space for these items can help prevent damage and lost time serving your clients. If it’s safe to do so in the aftermath of the tornado, try to mitigate any physical damage to your building. This might mean shutting off the utilities. But first and foremost, remember to be safe.
Is it possible to have an alternative location ready to go in case your primary location is damaged by the tornado? Do you have reserve funds or insurance to cover your losses and transition time while you rebuild your facility? Have you talked to your bank about the ability to take out loans in an emergency situation? In addition, have you talked with your suppliers about extending lines of credit in such a situation?
Another issue is what would happen if the tornado destroyed all your paper records. Digitizing records not only saves on clutter but means you can have a backup copy as well. The backup records should be housed on a server that is physically far away from your business. After all, you don’t want the tornado to knock out both servers at once.
Finally, make a plan for how to communicate with customers and employees after the tornado. Traditional lines of communication such as phones lines may be severed. Websites, social media platforms, and news outlets can be used to get your message out.
Regardless of what line of business you’re in, make sure you have a plan ready before a tornado hits to make sure you, your employees, and your business will survive.
Written by: Dave Humpal