Here in the Mid-South we are now officially under a Winter Storm watch. NWS feels strongly that an ice storm is imminent. Forecasting winter weather in our part of the country is difficult. A few degrees one way or another makes a big difference. Regardless of the outcome of this situation, I thought some contingency planning advice would be in order.
Ice Storms present a worst case scenario, as they offer a look into what a prolonged utility outage, and prolonged transportation disruption would look like. If you are a bank, hospital, or electric utility, you likely have planned for such a scenario. If so, it’s time to dust off those plans and remind employees how you will respond.
If you are the typical business, however, you probably haven’t spent much time thinking about terms like contingency planning and disaster recovery. The impact on you is no less real, though. The statistics are frightening . . . a business that is unable to resume normal operations within three days after a disaster has a 50/50 chance of failure in the next 12 months. While this potential event is pretty close, there are still things you can do to better prepare.
First, assess the impact on your business and your employees if you experience a prolonged power outage. HVAC, lighting, refrigeration, and life support systems are some of the things you should consider.
Second, develop plans for maintaining at least a limited level of service during such an outage. Generators and kerosene heaters may help. They are usually in short supply once the worst happens.
Third, speak to your employees about their own preparedness. Employees who are occupied with their own problems won’t be as available to help with the business. Laying in supplies of non-perishable food and water, along with making plans for alternate heating sources, are always appropriate measures.
My intent here is to get you thinking about managing such a situation, beyond the “winter-armageddon” dash for milk and bread. You can find great information about preparedness at ready.gov, and I’m always available to discuss your business contingency and disaster recovery issues.