The newsLINK Group - Handling Disaster

Editorial Library Category: General Business Topics: Disaster Title: Handling Disaster Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Tomorrow morning, a little while before it’s time for your alarm to go off, the unthinkable happens: it’s an earthquake, the big one that experts have been warning us about. You’re lucky. Incredibly, your house is still standing when it’s over, damage is minimal, and your entire family is safe. Editorial: Handling Disaster 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ thenewslinkgroup.com │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Tomorrow morning, a little while before it’s time for your alarm to go off, the unthinkable happens: it’s an earthquake, the big one that experts have been warning us about. You’re lucky. Incredibly, your house is still standing when it’s over, damage is minimal, and your entire family is safe. Your business isn’t so lucky. As you look at the damage later that day, you realize that it’s going to be awhile before you can open your doors for business again. The building is only partially standing, the computers look like they are going to be a complete loss, and your inventory … well, let’s just say cleaning up is going to take some time. What are you going to do now? Start by thinking about what’s at risk if a disaster occurs. Your assets can be tangible, like the business where you open the door every morning, or intangible — such as the knowledgeable, skilled employees who do a great job of representing your business — and they can also consist of intellectual property. According to the Strategic Research Institute, you only have ten days to get your doors open again; miss that window, and chances are your business is permanently out of business. Say that somehow you manage to pull that off. The clock is still ticking. Two years after a major disaster, the Association of Records Managers and Administrators has found that 60 percent of all businesses have closed their doors for good because they can’t handle the costs associated with the recovery. Say that your disaster isn’t an earthquake. For 91 percent of those currently living in the U.S., many things can potentially go wrong: earthquake is a big one in the western U.S., but the University of South Carolina’s Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute has a scary list of other disasters to contemplate. A volcano could explode, for example, or there are tornados and hurricanes, epidemics, flooding, terrorism, wind damage, and wildfire to think about. Why don’t we prepare for it? If you are like most people, you would have a hard time answering that question. You know emergency preparedness is important, but maybe it’s too overwhelming and just doesn’t seem that urgent. You can’t control what’s going to happen to you all the time, no matter who you are, and you can’t always control when it happens, either. That being the case, it’s easy to focus on issues that seem to have more immediate importance. Emergency preparedness gets shoved off to the side, and the next thing you know, you aren’t even thinking about where to put it on your to-do list. Eric Holdeman, former director of the King County, Washington, Office of Emergency Management and a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine, has an explanation for why people don’t prepare more: in a word, it’s denial. As he puts it, people think disaster won’t happen, or it won’t happen to them. If they’re wrong, they don’t think it will be too serious. If it is, there isn’t anything to be done about it anyway. That kind of thinking isn’t going to do anything except ensure defeat. You can do better. By thinking about the possibilities in advance, you can approach disaster with resilience, minimize the damages, and potentially keep the most important business processes going. Even though it’s true you can’t control everything, you can choose to be proactive. By being proactive, you immediately improve your chances of navigating disaster as gracefully as possible. Do you have guaranteed success? No. But you will have shifted the odds somewhat in your favor, and as Louis Pasteur famously said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” In short, what you need is a business continuity plan. Your goals will be straightforward: Keep people and assets as safe as possible. Teach your employees to be more conscious of potential disasters.

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