Planning Before a Hurricane or Other Disaster Arrives is Key to Business Survival. These guidelines help businesses develop a strategy to minimize damage, lost time and money.
Develop a business continuity / disaster recovery plan.
– Establish a disaster-recovery team of employees who know your business best, and assign responsibilities
for specific tasks.
– Identify your risks (kinds of disasters you’re most likely to experience) and make a detailed plan for how
you would respond to each type of disaster.
– Prioritize critical business functions and how quickly these must be recovered.
– Establish a disaster-recovery location where employees may work off-site and access critical back-up
systems, records and supplies.
– Obtain temporary housing for key employees, their families and pets.
– Update and test your plan at least annually.
– Communicate and meet with key stakeholders (banks, trading partners, vendors) of your company
annually to discuss critical components of your plan that would require their participation.
– Include contact information (for employees, customers, vendors, etc.) within the plan.
Alternative operational locations.
Determine which alternatives are available:
– A satellite or branch office of your business.
– The office of a business partner or even an employee.
– Home or hotel.
Equip your backup operations site with critical equipment, data files and supplies:
– Power generators.
– Computers and software.
– Critical computer data files (payroll, accounts payable and receivable, customer orders, inventory).
– Equipment and spare parts.
– Vehicles, boats and spare parts.
– Digital cameras.
– Common supplies.
– Supplies unique to your business (order forms, contracts, etc.).
– Basic first aid/sanitary supplies, potable water and food.
Safeguard your property.
Is your property prepared to survive a hurricane or other disaster:
– Your building?
– Your equipment?
– Your computer systems?
– Your company vehicles?
– Your company records?
– Other company assets?
Do you have current and multiple contact information (e.g., home and cell phone numbers,
personal email addresses) for:
– Key customers?
– Important vendors, suppliers, business partners?
– Insurance companies?
– Is contact information accessible electronically for fast access by all employees?
Do you have access to multiple and reliable methods of communicating with your employees:
– Satellite phones?
– Emergency toll-free hotline?
– Cell phones?
– Two-way radios?
– Web site?
Make sure your employees know:
– Company emergency plan.
– Where they should relocate to work.
– How to use and have access to reliable methods of communication, such as satellite/cell phones, email,
voice mail, Internet, text messages, BlackBerryTM, PDAs.
– Their user IDs and passwords for critical company systems.
– How to perform multiple job functions to help ensure adequate support coverage during a disaster.
– How they will be notified to return to work.
– Benefits of direct deposit of payroll and subscribe to direct deposit.
– Emergency company housing options available for them and their family.
Make sure your key customers know:
– Your emergency contact information for sales and service support (publish on your Web site).
– Your backup business or store locations (publish on your Web site).
– What to expect from your company in the event of a prolonged disaster displacement.
– Alternate methods for placing orders.
– Alternate methods for sending invoice payments in the event of mail disruption.
When a mandatory evacuation is issued, be prepared to grab and leave with critical office
records and equipment:
– Company disaster-recovery plan and checklist.
– Insurance policies and company contracts.
– Company checks, plus a list of all bank accounts, credit cards, ATM cards.
– Employee payroll and contact information.
– Desktop/laptop computers.
– Customer records, including orders in progress.
– Photographs/digital images of your business property.
– Post disaster contact info inside your business to alert emergency workers how to reach you.
– Secure your building and property. 2 of 3
Be prepared to meet emergency cash-flow needs:
– Fund bank accounts and keep enough cash on hand to handle immediate needs.
– Take your checkbook and credit cards in the event of an evacuation.
– Release direct deposit of payroll, if necessary.
– Use Internet banking services to monitor account activity, manage cash flow, initiate wires, pay bills.
– Issue commercial credit cards to essential personnel to cover emergency business expenses.
– Reduce dependency on paper checks and postal service to send and receive payments (consider using
direct-deposit/direct-debit electronic payments and remote deposit banking services).
– Contact your branch for any special coin/currency needs, if a threat is imminent.
– Make night depository drops as early as possible, if a threat is imminent.
– Be prepared to safeguard your own deposits in the event you are unable to reach a branch that can
process your transactions (consider using remote deposit banking services).
Post-disaster recovery procedures.
– Consider how your post-disaster business may differ from today.
– Plan whom you will want to contact and when.
– Assign specific tasks to responsible employees.
– Track progress and effectiveness.
– Document lessons learned and best practices.
For more business continuity planning tips, visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Web site at
To access a copy of this business disaster planning checklist, go to