Do you have a business disaster plan?

Monday, October 15, 2001

The Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon make it clear that natural or man-made disasters present serious threats to our safety and security.

If you own or manage a business or another kind organization it is vital for you to have plans in place to prevent or minimize damage to life and property. If your employees become casualties and your facility is substantially damaged by a natural disaster or terrorist attack your business could be permanently shut down.

The Better Business Bureau and the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency urge business owners to take the necessary steps to plan and prepare before a disaster strikes. When it comes to security measures, an ounce of prevention is very definitely worth a pound of cure.

You should be able to answer each of the following questions in the affirmative -- otherwise you need to create an adequate disaster plan:

Have you done a risk analysis of your location(s) based on the most probable effect from natural or terrorist disasters?

Do you have an up-to-date plan directing exactly where your employees are to go and what to do if and when disaster strikes?

Do you have a list of staff who would be essential to business resumption efforts, and do you have an up-to-date list of their names, phone numbers and email addresses?

Do you have a list of agencies essential to your protection and relief, and do you have an up-to-date list of their names, phone numbers and email addresses?

Do you maintain adequate first-aid medicines and the necessary protection equipment to provide your staff emergency adequate disaster relief?

Do you have an employment hiring plan in place and personnel policies directed at identifying and screening potential employee security risks?

Have you identified what potential risks could affect your business during severe weather? For example, are you near a floodplain or a tornado-prone area or is your business located where there have been droughts in the past?

Do you keep duplicates of all essential records, such as, personnel, payroll, payables and receivables, at a safe, off-site location?

Are you aware of and do you support local community-disaster prevention efforts that reduce the risk to you, your employees, your business and critical local infrastructures like electricity, gas, water, roads and bridges necessary for continued operation of your business?

Do you have business interruption plans and implement mitigation measures to minimize loss of jobs and business activity?

Have you lined up alternate vendors for essential supplies and backup equipment and do you know its availability? Have you signed contracts on these items if necessary to avoid last-minute rushes?

Do you maintain an up-to-date inventory of your assets?

Do your insurance policies provide adequate coverage for those items that you cannot afford to lose?

Remember that standard policies often do not cover flood and earthquake losses, nor do they cover business interruption losses.

Robert E. Bunn is a management consultant in Cape Girardeau. (335-3351 or

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