Many parts of the world are earthquake prone. Unfortunately, they strike without warning and depending on the severity, the damage can vary from cracked windows to collapsed buildings. Death tolls are dependent on the region where the earthquake strikes and its severity. Richer countries such as Japan, have instituted building codes that minimize damage and poorer third world countries suffer widespread destruction and death due to poorly built buildings. However, all business can take the following actions that will help in recovering as quickly as possible.
- Create a Disaster Recovery plan (DRP) – this is the most important exercise that all businesses should carry out. The DRP should be a carefully thought out document that details the potential risks to a business, business activities that are critical for survival, DR teams, tasks and responsibilities. Employees should be trained. While written DR plans are a good start, keeping them updated and available during an emergency requires long term diligence. An alternative is to use a DR platform in the cloud (www.stayinbusiness.com).
- The primary step in protecting businesses is to identify the hazards in a business premise. These can range from heavy filing cabinets to precariously placed objects (decorations). Anything that has the potential to fall on people during an earthquake must be identified and secured. Carefully go through each and every room and note items that need to be secured. Do not wait, secure them.
- If you are in the process of locating a business in an earthquake zone, have the rental (or owned) space checked out by an expert to determine how well it is “earthquake proofed”. Make your decision based on this advice. If you are already renting, work with the landlord to make the premises as secure as possible.
- Keep important files and other valuable items locked or in a safe – if an earthquake occurs, things may fall down and get destroyed, but secure cabinets will help take security of documents off your worry list.
- Scan and store copies of important documents in a safe place away from the same geographic area. Cloud storage is best. These can be retrieved as a part of the recovery process.
- Designate a safe area – this is tricky. It is best to move to open ground far away from buildings during an emergency. If this is not possible, the designated safe area such as a cubby, heavy table (any place or thing that shelters from falling objects) etc. Getting in or under such a place in case moving outside is not possible could be a life saver.
- Emergency preparedness kits – these kits should contain essential supplies such as flashlight, spare batteries, water, non-perishable food (granola bars etc.), bandages, band aid, whistles and feminine hygiene products. Remember, many victims of earthquakes die of dehydration when trapped. Water is essential and keeping bottles in several places throughout the premises can be the life saver. Be sure you refresh these kits regularly.
- Business data – you must have a data replication plan as a part of your DRP. This is essential if the business is to survive. Offsite replication is key – either in a geographically distant data center or the cloud.
- Buddy system – the post-earthquake scene will be chaotic at best. The buddy system can be of immense assistance. This system relies on a sub group of employees knowing if the other was at work and is accounted for. This will help in rescue efforts.
If your business is the victim of an earthquake, the first obligation is toward employee safety. Once that is ensured, assist them in ensuring their families are also OK. The hard work of rebuilding can then begin. If you have a DRP, the process is much simpler.