Hurricanes and tornadoes may be top of mind when you think about disruptive weather, but winter storms can also quickly derail business continuity. The 2020 ice storm that hit Texas serves as a reminder that winter weather can pose a serious risk, no matter where you live.
When severe winter weather is in the forecast, businesses must turn their focus to keeping employees safe, mitigating risks and reducing operational and financial impact. Here are six ways to support business continuity in the event of a winter storm.
1. Check your insurance coverage for protection against winter hazards before a storm hits.
Not all insurance policies cover every type of severe weather. If a winter storm is approaching your area, check to see what type of weather your insurance protects against and expand your coverage ahead of time if necessary.
2. Boost your disaster supply kit.
Make sure your disaster supply kit includes items like rock salt to melt ice on driveways, sand to improve traction and snow shovels. You may also want to keep portable heaters on-site at your business in case heating issues occur.
3. Put an Internet failover solution in place.
Even with a reliable cable or fiber Internet carrier, outages happen. Internet outages are highly unpredictable and can be linked to natural disasters and weather, including winter storms. It’s critical to plan ahead for Internet downtime so your business is prepared long before a disaster takes out connectivity.
An Internet Failover solution is the best way a business can prepare for an unforeseen outage. If you experience Internet downtime with your primary service, all data and communications will automatically be rerouted to your Internet backup solution to minimize business disruption. There are many different types of Internet failover solutions available for your business, including satellite, cable, fiber, DSL, wireless, and cellular Internet access.
4. Employ a backup power connection.
Many regions across the United States have experienced large-scale power blackouts over the last few years. Any building can be at risk of power loss, especially when faced with a winter storm. If an unexpected power outage occurs during work hours, your systems and Internet will likely go down which can be detrimental to productivity.
Even if your backup power generators come online a few minutes later, your employees may lose hours of unsaved work. To protect your business from this scenario, you can consider investing in an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
The second you lose power, a UPS will launch, preventing your employees from experiencing any downtime or losing work. Backup power is a smart investment for businesses of all sizes to protect against network and connectivity issues.
5. Fortify your physical business location.
Take all necessary steps to ensure your physical location is protected from harsh weather, including sealing all openings with insulation where cold air can enter. Make sure heating equipment is in good condition and operating efficiently. Determine which business equipment is most vulnerable to freezing temperatures and plan to protect it accordingly.
6. Establish an emergency communications plan.
Make sure your staff knows how everyone will communicate before, during and after a weather disaster. Keep an updated list of employee, vendor and client contact information off-site for easy access during an emergency. Names and phone numbers of your heating contractor, plumber, fire department, insurance agent and building owner should also be easily accessible.
Winter storms can occur unexpectedly and can have a damaging impact on business continuity. Take these precautions to keep your business, employees, and customers safe during winter storms.