Disaster Recovery Planning - Useful Sites and Info
Emergency Management Guide for Business & Industry
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
|Keep phone lists of your key employees and customers with you, and provide copies to key staff members.|
|If 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.|
|Arrange 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.|
|If 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.|
|Install emergency lights that turn on when the power goes out. They are inexpensive and widely available at building supply retailers.|
|Back up computer data frequently throughout the business day. Keep a backup tape off site.|
|Use 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.|
|Purchase 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.|
|Stock a minimum supply of the goods, materials and equipment you would need for business continuity.|
|Consult 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.|
|Keep emergency supplies handy, including-
For more information, read about Disaster Supplies.
Reduce Potential Damage
Prevent or reduce disaster damage in your facility by taking precautions, such as-
|Bolting tall bookcases or display cases to wall studs.|
|Protecting breakable objects by securing them to a stand or shelf using hook-and- loop fasteners.|
|Moving to lower shelves large objects that could fall and break or injure someone.|
|Installing latches to keep drawers and cabinets from flying open and dumping their contents.|
|Using closed screw eyes and wire to securely attach framed pictures and mirrors to walls.|
|Using 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-
|Flexible connectors to appliances and equipment fueled by natural gas.|
|Shutters that you can close to protect windows from damage caused by debris blown by a hurricane, tornado or severe storm.|
|Automatic 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.
|Install smoke detectors to warn of an apartment or home fire.|
|Elevate utilities to upper floor or attic.|
|Clear surrounding brush to protect your home against wildfires.|
|Anchor your house to the foundation, and anchor the roof to the main frame.|
|Secure objects that could fall and cause damage in an earthquake, such as a bookcase or hot water heater.|
|Install hurricane shutters on windows, and prepare plywood covers for glass doors.|
|Cover windows, turn off utilities, or move possessions to a safer location if you have adequate warning of something like a hurricane or flood.|
|If your home is in a high risk flood area, on a fault line, or threatened by coastal erosion, consider relocating.|
|Have your house inspected by a building inspector or architect to find out what structural improvements could prevent or reduce major damage from disasters.|
|If 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.
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:
|Buy, at a minimum, full replacement or replacement cost coverage. This means the structure can be replaced up to the limits specified in the policy.|
|Investigate 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.|
|Have your home periodically reappraised to be sure the policy reflects the real replacement cost.|
|Update the policy to include any home improvements, such as basement refinishing. Annual automatic increases may not be enough to cover these.|
|Buy 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).|
|Be very clear about what the policy will and will not cover, and how the deductibles work (the part you pay before the policy pays).|
|Check 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.|
|Use your home inventory list to check that your policy's coverage matches the value of your possessions.|
If you rent:
|If you are renting, consider locating outside a high risk flood area or away from a fault line.|
|Buy 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.|
|Be 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?|
|Comparison 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:
|Select 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:
|Keep 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.|
|Set 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.|
|Keep your emergency funds in a safe, easily accessible account, such as a passbook savings account or a money market account.|
|Keep 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.|
|Keep your credit cards paid off. You may have to draw on them to tide you over.|
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:
|Deeds, titles, and other ownership records for your home, autos, RVs, boats, etc.|
|Birth certificates and naturalization papers.|
|Marriage license/divorce papers and child custody papers.|
|Passports and military/veteran papers.|
|Appraisals of expensive jewelry and heirlooms.|
|Certificates for stocks, bonds, and other investments.|
|Living wills, powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney.|
|Insurance policies (copies are sufficient).|
|Home improvement records.|
|Household 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:
|Decide 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.|
|Take jewelry and other small valuables.|
|Take irreplaceable heirlooms, mementos, and photos.|
|Don't bother with replaceable items such as televisions, furniture, computers, and clothing (except what you need to wear for a few days).|
|Be sure, however, to take a battery-powered radio and spare batteries so you can stay informed.|
|Take 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.
The FAA Air Traffic Control System Command
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.
From the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The Weather Channel
(c)2001-06 Fraser CPA - Last Updated 06/06/2006