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Is Your Business Prepared for the Next Natural Disaster?

No matter where you live, your business is at risk from severe weather.

While this may sound alarmist, it’s also true. From hurricanes to blizzards, droughts to floods, no location is safe from mother nature’s wrath. And it’s not just industries that rely heavily on weather for their livelihood, like agriculture. When severe weather hits, every business feels the heat (or cold.) This is particularly true today. Whatever your opinion of climate change (often blamed for the intensity of recent weather patterns), there’s no denying that the last several years have seen extraordinarily frequent and powerful weather episodes around the globe.

2016 in particular saw a wide variety of severe weather incidents with serious repercussions to business. Hurricane Matthew ravaged the Southeast last fall, producing economic losses of $4-6 billion. Winter Storm Jonas, a.k.a. “Snowzilla”, brought $500 million – $3 billion in economic losses to the East Coast in January 2016. Even the relatively mild Hurricane Hermine left an estimated $800 million of damages in her wake.

Businesses’ preparation efforts for these inevitable events (or lack thereof) are almost as frightening as the storms themselves. According to USA Today:

  • Nearly two-thirds of small businesses do not have an emergency plan in place
  • 40% of businesses affected by natural or man-made disasters never re-open
  • Natural hazards pose a $1.2 trillion loss to the U.S. economy through 2050
  • The United States is the second most vulnerable country in the world to business impact from natural disasters (behind Japan)

Protecting your business from natural disasters is a multi-faceted effort that should include a proactive preparedness program, risk planning and assessment, insurance, training, and disaster recovery plans, to name a few. You must account for your physical and virtual assets, from your buildings to your data, to make sure that your business doesn’t fall into the 40% that don’t recover.

But the most important resource to protect, of course, is your people. Severe weather puts your employees in harm’s way at home, at the office, or en route. You need a reliable means of communication, even if standard systems are down, to communicate with your people at a moment’s notice in order to keep them safe.

That’s where an emergency notification system (ENS) comes in.

An ENS, also known as a mass notification system, makes it easy to reach all of your employees on the channel or device of their choice with just a few clicks. It’s independent from your primary infrastructure, so it works even if power and/or servers go down, and will continue to send notifications to different devices until you receive a response. Emergency notification systems also allow for two-way communication, so you can not only send messages to your people, but receive answers that allow for targeted and prioritized responses.

In a weather event, for instance, you could send a notification to your employees informing them that the office is closed but business operations will continue. You could ask each recipient to verify that they have reliable Internet access to ensure business continuity, and if they don’t, provide options or allocate alternative resources. In a true emergency, you could use an ENS to confirm your employees’ safety and ask if anyone needs assistance. One AlertFind customer did just that during a flood, and used the system to locate and assist someone who was stuck on his roof!

While ensuring your people’s safety is paramount, mass notification systems also keep your business safe. In less serious events, solutions like AlertFind become critical to ensuring business continuity. You can use an ENS to notify employees of the best way to get back to work; get the right people, like your IT team, onto a bridge to troubleshoot issues; or set up a hotline so everyone knows where to go to get the most current information. A significant chunk of those million and billion dollar economic loss statistics comes from lost productivity. An emergency notification system mitigates those risks.

You can’t control the weather, but you can control your response to it. With an emergency notification system like AlertFind as part of your preparedness strategy, you gain the confidence that your people will stay safe and productive the next time mother nature strikes.

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