Preparing for the Big One

Survey results suggest at least one third of businesses aren't ready for an earthquake or tsunami.Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tornados and volcanic eruptions could and will happen without warning in the Pacific Northwest.

It turns out most Oregon businesses (66 percent very/somewhat) think their organization is prepared to handle problems when a disaster strikes. Unfortunately, the remaining third are not prepared.

Businesses that get caught flat-footed after a disaster face serious problems. According to a survey conducted by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, one in four businesses don’t reopen after a major disaster.

So what have Oregon businesses done to prepare for a disaster?

Protecting key data are the steps organizations are most likely to have taken. This includes backing up data frequently (81 percent); storing back-up digital files off-site and ensuring customer and employee contact information is accessible (70 percent).

On the other hand, one of the efforts organizations are least likely to have done is create and maintain a supply of food and water for employees and customers (23 percent) who may be stuck at the office or store.

As managers, we are trained to plan and create contingencies. Most organizations have thought about the what-ifs for disasters, but a large share are woefully unprepared.

For more information about disaster preparedness, go to the U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Planning webpage.

Results are based on an online survey among 513 Oregon business decision-makers conducted by CFM Strategic Communications for Oregon Business in May 2011.