Preparing for Disaster: 5 Areas

The June 2012 Waldo Canyon wildfire in Colorado led many local businesses to review their disaster plans, as many were put to the test in the veritable line of fire. It is often too late to review a disaster plan in the face of an actual disaster. By that point, companies need to know who is doing what and also that their data is backed up properly. That way when the disaster has passed and the pieces are being picked up, companies can get back to business as usual faster and easier. Below are five areas that should be at the top of any company’s list when it comes to disaster preparedness, according to an article published by www.reuters.com.

  1. Forwarding calls to an outside line: Do managers have a way to take business calls or forward calls to their home when an office is out of commission? Pre-paid phones are one answer. That way companies have a dependable number at which clients and vendors can reach them. They can also check with their phone provider to see if they offer call forwarding before a disaster strikes.
  2. The backup of critical data: Make sure to digitize important client and company documents, preferably at a location outside of the office. One such method is through cloud computing.
  3. Hard copies of key information: Make sure to have hard copies of such information as contact information for clients and employees offsite. You should also have the instructions on how to forward calls to your office, passwords for your voicemail, e-mail, and remote login.
  4. Test your plan: A well thought-out disaster plan is only as good as the last time you tested it. Knowing beforehand who is responsible for specific areas can save crucial time when disaster strikes. Test out any calling trees, such as those used to call and verify that employees are okay. Update your calling tree regularly.
  5. Communicating with clients: The first thing to do once an evacuation ends and you have checked that all of your employees are okay is to mass e-mail your clients and let them know the situation at hand.

Many relate the Waldo Canyon wildfire to the Hayman Fire that ravaged the area 10 years ago. The lessons learned from that disaster still ring true today, but it would seem they have not been heeded, as the Waldo Canyon wildfire was the most destructive forest fire in Colorado to date. The main contributors to the disaster: a severe drought weakening existing trees, trees becoming infested with bark beetles, and the pile-up of weakened and dead trees on the forest floor. Due to budget cuts and changing policies, this debris is left where it falls and can fuel fires such as the Waldo Canyon wildfire.

For more information about fire prevention and awareness, visit:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/12/advisers-wildfire-idUSL2E8I6A7T20120712
and
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/colorado-wildfire-devastation-lessons-learned-and-lost