Businesses Must Prepare for the Worst

For the next four days federal, state and local officials will take part in an earthquake training exercise along with Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Camp Murray, the Navy and tribal governments.

They are preparing for the “big one,” which is a 9.0 earthquake expected to strike along the Cascadia subduction zone. The quake would affect the Pacific coast from Northern California to Canada. The exercise is being called “Cascadia Rising.”

Cascade_Volcanic_Arc (earthquake blog 6.7.16)

When I worked as a reporter for Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s newspaper the Northwest Guardian I had the privilege of sitting in on some of the drills emergency officials took part in last summer. One of the big takeaways from the trainings included ensuring that the people who work and live on base were properly prepared for a natural disaster at home. While working for the Better Business Bureau the past six months, I’ve learned just how important it is for the private sector to be ready as well.

In January I spoke with the Washington Military Department about how businesses and organizations can be equipped for an event like this. The WMD works with the private industry in helping them plan for a disaster and informs them on how they can take part in the response to one.

Here are some of the ways the WMD and BBB serving the Northwest suggests businesses prepare:

  • Start at home. If employees have a plan for their household, they are more likely to be able to assist a business with getting back on its feet. If they aren’t they’ll likely not be around to support the business or its customers. Talk to your employees about the importance of having a plan setup at home.
  • Have a disaster plan. Each company should have a plan in place for how it will respond to a disaster. Emergency drills are vital in ensuring everyone knows how to respond to a disaster and what their roles are, should one occur.
  • Have finances in order. Do you know how long your business could last should it be without electricity or key staff members? Business owners should know how long they can be offline before they are affected financially. Remember: everyday your business is closed is money lost.
  • Records protection. If you keep all of your important files in a basement, what would happen if that basement flooded? If a wildfire were to sweep your town would your files be safe from catching fire? One option for businesses is the use of cloud storage. It is relatively low cost and can be a great backup plan for businesses.

For more information on how companies should practice storm preparedness visit ready.gov/business. To learn more about the training exercise taking place from JBLM to Port Angeles visit www.fema.gov/cascadia-rising-2016.

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