Disaster Recovery Planning - Useful Sites and Info



Emergency Management Guide for Business & Industry

bulletUseful information at FEMA's Web site.

Section 1: 4 Steps in the Planning Process
Section 2: Emergency Management Considerations
Section 3: Hazard-Specific Information
Section 4: Information Sources

Another source of useful information is Open for Business, a booklet developed by the Institute for Business and Home Safety and the Small Business Administration


Business & Industry Guide by the Red Cross

Preparing Your Business For the Unthinkable
(PDF File)

Why bother? Disasters don't happen here.
Even if you think you are not in a disaster-prone area, something like a chemical tanker truck overturning can prevent you and your employees from getting to your facility. Even if a flood doesn't put your business under water, customers and supplies may not be able to get to you.

Power outages, brown-outs or surges can affect your daily business operations. Many disasters, like wind storms, tornadoes and earthquakes, can strike quickly and with little or no warning.

What Can I Do
Disaster Recovery Begins Before a Disaster
Develop a DR Plan
Reduce Potential Damage
Protect Your Employees, Customers and Business

Also see the Emergency Management Guide for Business & Industry. A step-by-step approach to emergency planning, response and recovery for companies of all sizes. Sponsored by a Public-Private Partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

What can I do?
Find out which natural and technological hazards can happen in your area. Get information about how to prepare your employees and clients to respond to possible hazards and provide help. Disaster safety information and CPR/first aid training are available from your local Red Cross chapter. Network with others who have or need to develop risk or contingency management plans. Attend seminars and get information from local risk management associations or chapters.

Disaster Recovery Begins Before a Disaster
No business should risk operating without a disaster plan. While reports vary, as many as 40 percent of small businesses do not reopen after a major disaster like a flood, tornado or earthquake. These shuttered businesses were unprepared for a disaster; they had no plan or backup systems.

When you start to develop your disaster plan, consider three subjects: human resources, physical resources and business continuity. Think about how a disaster could affect your employees, customers and workplace. Think about how you could continue doing business if the area around your facility is closed or streets are impassable. Think about what you would need to serve your customers even if your facility is closed.

Start building your DR plan now.
Here are some suggestions your may want to consider:

bulletKeep phone lists of your key employees and customers with you, and provide copies to key staff members.
bulletIf you have a voice mail system at your office, designate one remote number on which you can record messages for employees. Provide the number to all employees.
bulletArrange for programmable call forwarding for your main business line(s). Then, if you can't get to the office, you can call in and reprogram the phones to ring elsewhere.
bulletIf you may not be able to get to your quickly after an emergency, leave keys and alarm code(s) with a trusted employee or friend who is closer.
bulletInstall emergency lights that turn on when the power goes out. They are inexpensive and widely available at building supply retailers.
bulletBack up computer data frequently throughout the business day. Keep a backup tape off site.
bulletUse UL-listed surge protectors and battery backup systems. They will add protection for sensitive equipment and help prevent a computer crash if the power goes out.
bulletPurchase a NOAA Weather Radio with a tone alert feature. Keep it on and when the signal sounds, listen for information about severe weather and protective actions to take.
bulletStock a minimum supply of the goods, materials and equipment you would need for business continuity.
bulletConsult with your insurance agent about precautions to take for disasters that may directly impact your business. Remember, most policies do not cover earthquake and flood damage. Protect valuable property and equipment with special riders. Discuss business continuity insurance with your agent.
bulletKeep emergency supplies handy, including-
bulletFlashlights with extra batteries.
bulletFirst aid kit.
bulletFood and water for employees and customers to use during a period of unexpected confinement at your business, such as if a tanker truck over-turned nearby and authorities told everyone in the area to stay put for an extended period.

For more information, read about Disaster Supplies.

Reduce Potential Damage
Prevent or reduce disaster damage in your facility by taking precautions, such as-

bulletBolting tall bookcases or display cases to wall studs.
bulletProtecting breakable objects by securing them to a stand or shelf using hook-and- loop fasteners.
bulletMoving to lower shelves large objects that could fall and break or injure someone.
bulletInstalling latches to keep drawers and cabinets from flying open and dumping their contents.
bulletUsing closed screw eyes and wire to securely attach framed pictures and mirrors to walls.
bulletUsing plumber's tape or strap iron to wrap around a hot water heater to secure it to wall studs.

You should also consider having a professional install-

bulletFlexible connectors to appliances and equipment fueled by natural gas.
bulletShutters that you can close to protect windows from damage caused by debris blown by a hurricane, tornado or severe storm.
bulletAutomatic fire sprinklers.

Protect Your Employees, Customers and Business
Designate one employee from each work shift to be the safety coordinator. This person will make all decisions relating to employee and customer safety and to the safety of the business itself. Safety coordinators should know how to contact the owner or operator at all times.

Everyone in your facility should know how to prepare for a disaster and what to do if a disaster occurs. Contact your local Red Cross chapter for specific information about how to stay safe in a tornado, earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane or other hazard.

Protect your property
One of the first things to do is find out what disasters could strike where you live. The following steps can help you reduce the physical destruction to your property if you were to be hit with a disaster. These steps can reduce your insurance costs, too.

bulletInstall smoke detectors to warn of an apartment or home fire.
bulletElevate utilities to upper floor or attic.
bulletClear surrounding brush to protect your home against wildfires.
bulletAnchor your house to the foundation, and anchor the roof to the main frame.
bulletSecure objects that could fall and cause damage in an earthquake, such as a bookcase or hot water heater.
bulletInstall hurricane shutters on windows, and prepare plywood covers for glass doors.
bulletCover windows, turn off utilities, or move possessions to a safer location if you have adequate warning of something like a hurricane or flood.
bulletIf your home is in a high risk flood area, on a fault line, or threatened by coastal erosion, consider relocating.
bulletHave your house inspected by a building inspector or architect to find out what structural improvements could prevent or reduce major damage from disasters.
bulletIf you haven't yet bought a house, you might take construction type into account. Frame houses tend to withstand some disasters, while brick homes hold up better in others.

If you're not sure where to start, you could contact your local fire department if you live in wildfire country. Fire departments will often make house calls to evaluate your property and make suggestions on how to improve safety. In earthquake-prone areas, the local utility can be called upon to come to your location and show you how and where to shut off gas lines or how to elevate utilities to get them above a possible flood.

Conduct a household inventory
Inventory your household possessions by making a list of everything you own. If disaster strikes, this list could:
bulletHelp you prove the value of what you owned if those possessions are damaged or destroyed.
bulletMake it more likely you'll receive a fast, fair payment from your insurance company for your losses.
bulletProvide documentation for tax deductions you claim for your losses.

To conduct a thorough home inventory:

bulletRecord the location of the originals of all important financial and family documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, wills, deeds, tax returns, insurance policies, and stock and bond certificates. Keep the originals in a safe place and store copies elsewhere. You'll need accessible records for tax and insurance purposes.
bulletMake a visual or written record of your possessions. If you don't own a camera or videotaping equipment (and can't borrow or rent it), buy an inventory booklet and fill it out, or make a simple list on notebook paper. Ask your insurance agent if he or she can provide one.
bulletGo from room to room. Describe each item, when you bought it, and how much it cost. If you're photographing or videotaping, have someone open closet doors and hold up items.
bulletRecord model and serial numbers.
bulletInclude less expensive items, such as bath towels and clothes. Their costs add up if you have to replace them.
bulletBe sure you include items in your attic, basement, and garage.
bulletNote the quality of building materials, particularly for such furnishings as oak doors or expensive plumbing fixtures.
bulletPhotograph the exterior of your home. Include the landscaping--that big tree in the front yard may not be insurable, but it does increase the value of your property for tax purposes. Make special note of any improvements, such as a patio, fencing, or outbuildings.
bulletPhotograph cars, boats, and recreational vehicles.
bulletMake copies of receipts and canceled checks for more valuable items.
bulletGet professional appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, artwork, or other items that are difficult to value. Update the appraisals every two to three years.
bulletUpdate your inventory list annually.

Most important, once you have completed your inventory, leave a copy with relatives or friends, or in a safe deposit box. Don't leave your only copy at home, where it might be destroyed.

Buy insurance
Even with adequate time to prepare for a disaster, you still may suffer significant, unavoidable damage to your property. That's when insurance for renters or homeowners can be a big help. Yet, many people affected by recent disasters have been underinsured-or worse-not insured at all. Homeowners insurance doesn't cover floods and some other major disasters. Make sure you buy the insurance you need to protect against the perils you face.

If you own a home:

bulletBuy, at a minimum, full replacement or replacement cost coverage. This means the structure can be replaced up to the limits specified in the policy.
bulletInvestigate buying a guaranteed replacement cost policy. When and where available, these policies can pay to rebuild your house, including improvements, at today's prices, regardless of the limits of the policy.
bulletHave your home periodically reappraised to be sure the policy reflects the real replacement cost.
bulletUpdate the policy to include any home improvements, such as basement refinishing. Annual automatic increases may not be enough to cover these.
bulletBuy a policy that covers the replacement cost of your possessions. Standard coverage only pays for the actual cash value (replacement cost discounted for age or use).
bulletBe very clear about what the policy will and will not cover, and how the deductibles work (the part you pay before the policy pays).
bulletCheck state-operated or federally operated insurance pools if you find it difficult to obtain private coverage because of a recent disaster. Premiums often run higher than market rates, but this is better than no coverage.
bulletUse your home inventory list to check that your policy's coverage matches the value of your possessions.

If you rent:

bulletIf you are renting, consider locating outside a high risk flood area or away from a fault line.
bulletBuy renter's insurance, which pays for damaged, destroyed, or stolen personal property. Your landlord's insurance won't cover damage to or loss of your possessions. Also, consider special coverage like flood insurance for your belongings.
bulletBe clear about what a policy will cover. Some policies cover more than others. For example, will the policy pay for living expenses if you have to live somewhere else temporarily, or for damage from sewer backup?
bulletComparison shop for the best coverage at the best price. Other than government flood insurance, policies vary from company to company. Policies in most areas are very affordable. Start with the company that insures your car. Discounts are often available if you carry more than one policy with a company.

If you are moving:

bulletSelect a home in an area not on a fault line, in a flood area, or at risk from costal erosion.

Consider special coverage
Insurance for renters and homeowners won't cover certain types of losses. Ask your insurance agent or financial planner about special or additional coverage for the following:

Floods. Homeowner policies don't cover damage from flooding. Call your current insurance company or agent first about getting coverage. If your company doesn't provide flood insurance, call the National Flood Insurance Program at (800) 427-4661, which can provide you with the name of an agent in your area who writes flood insurance. As of 1997, the average premium is $300 a year for $98,000 of coverage.

Earthquakes. Premiums typically are high ($5,000 annually for a $200,000 home), and deductibles may range from 5% to 20% of the policy's coverage. Still, such coverage may be better than no coverage. (Earthquake coverage for the contents of a home usually is separate. You also may need separate coverage for masonry and plate glass.)

Home offices. Some policies automatically extend coverage to computer equipment and a few other items of business property. Talk to your agent to determine what items would or would not be covered. If necessary, you could buy additional business coverage at a modest cost. Or it may be better to buy a separate small business policy, which would also provide more coverage.

Building codes. Ask your agent about additional insurance to cover the costs of meeting new, stricter building codes. Frequently, after a disaster people get socked with rebuilding costs that are much higher because building codes have changed. All current codes must be met when rebuilding. Consider additional structural improvements that provide more protection.

Other potential problems. This would include problems such as underground mines (located beneath your property) sewer backup, or mudslides.

Big-ticket items. Purchase additional coverage for specific jewelry, collectibles, artwork, furs, or other big-ticket items.

Where to keep cash
After a disaster, you may need cash for the first few days, or even several weeks. Income may stop if you can't work. To help stay solvent, consider the following:

bulletKeep a small amount of cash or traveler's checks at home in a place where you can get at it quickly in case of a sudden evacuation. A disaster can shut down local ATMs and banks. The money should be in small denominations for easier use.
bulletSet aside money in an emergency fund. That can be tough to do on a tight budget, but it can be well worth the effort. The fund can be very helpful, not only in a disaster, but in other financial crises, such as during unemployment or when unexpected expenses like legal fees arise.
bulletKeep your emergency funds in a safe, easily accessible account, such as a passbook savings account or a money market account.
bulletKeep some funds outside the local area, since the disaster that affects you could also affect your local financial institutions. A mutual fund money market account in another city or state is one option to consider.
bulletKeep your credit cards paid off. You may have to draw on them to tide you over.


Use an evacuation box. Buy a lockable, durable "evacuation box" to grab in the event of an emergency. Even a cardboard box would do. Put important papers into the box in sealed, waterproof plastic bags. Store the box in your home where you can get to it easily. Keep this box with you at all times, don't leave it in your unattended car.

The box should be large enough to carry:

bulletA small amount of traveler's checks or cash and a few rolls of quarters.
bulletNegatives for irreplaceable personal photographs, protected in plastic sleeves.
bulletA list of emergency contacts that includes doctors, financial advisors, clergy, reputable repair contractors, and family members who live outside your area.
bulletCopies of important prescriptions for medicines and eyeglasses, and copies of children's immunization records.
bulletHealth, dental, or prescription insurance cards or information.
bulletCopies of your auto, flood, renter's, or homeowners insurance policies (or at least policy numbers) and a list of insurance company telephone numbers.
bulletCopies of other important financial and family records (or at least a list of their locations). These would include deeds, titles, wills, a letter of instructions, birth and marriage certificates, passports, relevant employee benefits documents, the first two pages of the previous year's federal and state income tax returns, etc. Originals, other than wills, should be kept in a safe deposit box or at another location.
bulletBackups of computerized financial records.
bulletA list of bank account, loan, credit card, driver's license, investment account (brokerage and mutual funds), and Social Security numbers.
bulletSafe deposit box key.


Rent a safe deposit box. Safe deposit boxes are invaluable for protecting originals of important papers. If you don't have a safe deposit box, keep copies in your evacuation box or with family or friends. Original documents to store in a safe deposit box include:

bulletDeeds, titles, and other ownership records for your home, autos, RVs, boats, etc.
bulletBirth certificates and naturalization papers.
bulletMarriage license/divorce papers and child custody papers.
bulletPassports and military/veteran papers.
bulletAppraisals of expensive jewelry and heirlooms.
bulletCertificates for stocks, bonds, and other investments.
bulletTrust agreements.
bulletLiving wills, powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney.
bulletInsurance policies (copies are sufficient).
bulletHome improvement records.
bulletHousehold inventory documentation.


Generally, originals of wills should not be kept in a safe deposit box since the box may be sealed temporarily after death. Keep originals of wills with your local registrar of wills or your attorney.

Deciding on a safe and convenient location is an issue. You may want to consider renting a safe deposit box in a bank far enough away from your home so it is not likely to be affected by the same disaster that strikes your home (for instance, bank vaults have been flooded). Keep the key to the safe deposit box in your evacuation box.

Home safes and fire boxes. Safes and fire boxes can be convenient places to store important papers. However, some disasters, such as hurricanes, floods, or tornadoes, could destroy your home. Usually, it's better to store original papers in a safe deposit box or at another location well away from your home.

If you have time...
Some disasters, such as tornadoes or earthquakes, strike with little or no warning. Others, such as floods or hurricanes, may allow some time to prepare. If there is enough time, you could take the following actions:

bulletDecide what household items you would put on a very short priority list. For example, imagine you could take only one suitcase or pack a single carload. What would you take? Involve the whole family in this discussion.
bulletTake jewelry and other small valuables.
bulletTake irreplaceable heirlooms, mementos, and photos.
bulletDon't bother with replaceable items such as televisions, furniture, computers, and clothing (except what you need to wear for a few days).
bulletBe sure, however, to take a battery-powered radio and spare batteries so you can stay informed.
bulletTake important papers and computer disks if you have a home business.

You may not be able to do everything that is suggested--that's OK. Do what you can. Taking even limited action now will go a long way toward preparing you financially before a disaster strikes.

For more information, contact your local Red Cross or office of emergency management. There you can find out what the potential is for various disasters in your area or how you can help others who are affected by a disaster. You also can pick up a brochure that gives you advice on how to recover financially after a disaster strikes.

To find more information on the Internet, contact. . .
FEMA -- www.fema.gov
NEFE -- www.nefe.org


The FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center
Get real-time updates about airport closings and delays from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Disaster news updated daily.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency Web site

International Committee of the Red Cross
Disaster news and information on humanitarian efforts.

Doctors Without Borders
An independent international medical relief agency.

National Traffic and Road Closure Information
Provided by the Federal Highway Administration.

National Weather Service
Weather updates and emergency weather warnings.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

From the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The Weather Channel
Weather updates.

Weather Underground



(c)2001-06 Fraser CPA - Last Updated 06/06/2006

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