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Dodging Disaster: How to Prepare for Middle Tennessee’s Biggest Threats

Published on Oct 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm in Tips & Tricks.

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Disasters are a part of life. Disasters damaging your business don’t have to be.

Fortunately, small business owners can avoid a “cross your fingers and hope for the best” situation by preparing for even the most knee-buckling of disasters that may strike Middle Tennessee. Take a look at three of the most common disasters to hit the Nashville area and these simple ways to ensure the safety of your information and equipment.

Tornadoes

Tennessee happens to be just on the outskirts of one of the most disproportionately high tornado regions, Tornado Alley. But the outskirts are still plenty close. Though it’s not located directly in Tornado Alley, Tennessee still experiences its fair share of these unwelcome twisters.

Tennessee averages around 26 tornadoes a year with the highest peaks in spring and late fall. Pay close attention to the National Weather Service during those peak times. Tornadoes can develop with absolutely no warning so it’s crucial to have a disaster recovery plan in place long before the weatherman says one is headed your way.

While you’re creating a disaster recovery plan, it’s important to plan for business continuity as well. This means thoroughly documenting all processes that are necessary to keep your business running and addressing questions like how your employees will access company files in the event of an emergency. Consider electronically backing up everything from tax, payroll, accounting and production records to client and supplier data. Look into off-site backup options, too, to ensure safety and keep a strict schedule for keeping the information up to date.

Make sure everyone is prepared in the event of a tornado. Run drills. Train your team first on personal safety. Also, explain the plan for keeping communication open and the business operations going following a tornado.

Floods

As Nashvillians know, floods can be devastating. In fact, the 2010 flood forced 2,773 businesses to temporarily or permanently close, affecting almost 15 thousand employees and costing $3.6 billion in lost annual revenue.

Businesses should already be backing up all company information to the cloud or to an off-site location – even small and medium-sized businesses – and establishing a system for regular backups is crucial when preparing for a flood.

Chances are, your small business can’t wait weeks to get back to work, but flood cleanup can take at least that long, or even months, depending on the damage. To minimize business disruption, establish a way for employees to work remotely and make sure company data is accessible from outside the office.

You may also want to install a backup battery to keep your system up and running in the event of a sudden power outage. This will enable you to save any important files and ensure you don’t lose any data before heading for higher ground.

Ice Storms

Despite its Southern location, Nashville also finds itself at risk for ice storms. As anyone who was around during Winter 2015 can attest, ice storms can be quite devastating, with the ability to shut down the entire city.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare your small-to-medium-sized business for an ice storm is to establish a plan for employees to work from home. This includes setting up a reliable system for communication, such as Slack <link to Slack blog>.

Power outages are common during ice storms, so it may be worth it to invest in a backup generator. And be sure to unplug all electronics, such as computers and printers, before leaving the office to ensure a power surge doesn’t fry your equipment.

Disasters are not something to gamble with. They can immobilize an entire city at one time. By following these guidelines your business will have a much better chance of weathering the storm.

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