Natural Disaster Survival Guide For Businesses Part 5

by Wally Moore

on April 3, 2018

in blog, Disaster Survival Guide

A Quick Reference for Business Leaders

Natural Disaster Survival Guide For Business, Part 5, is our fifth post, in this series designed to prepare your business to survive any number of disasters that could shut your business down. These posts are not intended to be a complete preparation guide on disaster preparedness; rather they are meant to stimulate your thinking, as a business leader.

Disasters come in different ways. We’ve chosen six to chat about, leaving the most common one for last. In this fifth post, we’ll chat about Earthquake, landslide or avalanche.


Building fire or flooding
Hurricane or coastal storm
Tornado or extreme storm
Earthquake, landslide or avalanche
Human error aka “hurricane humanity”


Every business has to prepare for the worst. Those that don’t may never fully recover from a disaster. But not all disasters are created equal. Moreover, not all businesses are at risk for every kind of disaster. That’s why our partner, Datto, put together this quick Disaster Survival Guide to help you ensure that your business can keep operating even if it’s struck by one of the natural disasters described. Of course, this post is no substitute for rigorous business continuity (BC) planning with a BC consultant. But it will get you started in the right direction—and help ensure that you have the basics of a good disaster recovery in place even before you invest in a more formal BC plan. Note: This post addresses continuity of business operations only. It does not address the physical safety of employees during a disaster—which should always be the first priority. For matters of employee safety, please consult appropriate guidance from building codes, fire safety engineers, etc.

• Answering phones
• Processing orders
• Issuing invoices
• Signing checks
• Filing reports required by regulatory mandates


Description: Seismic events and other disasters can result from the inherent instability of earth, rocks, snow, etc.

Potential impact: Earthquakes can affect businesses both directly (tremors that can injure people, damage facilities, cause equipment to fall and break, etc.) and indirectly (road damage, broken water mains and gas lines, resulting fires and floods, etc.) Landslides and avalanches can take out roads, utilities, and damage buildings.

Risk factors: Earthquakes primarily threaten business in known areas of seismic activity, such as the Cascadia Subduction Zone here off the West Coast. Smaller tremors, however, can also impact businesses in many areas. Other earth-related hazards mainly threaten businesses located in mountainous regions.

Warning times: Earthquake early warning systems are available, but may give only a few seconds advance notice of an event depending on the distance from the epicenter. Some slow-moving mudslides, in stark contrast, may give businesses hours or even days to prepare.

Technology continuity: Like all businesses, those in earthquake zones should maintain continuous offsite backup of data,, applications, and server images. However, these businesses can take further precautions to avoid operational disruption in lighter tremors that do not require a complete failover. These precautions include:
• Use of data center racks and enclosures that can tolerate limited seismic activity and protect sensitive equipment from excessive shaking.
• Failover power supply to keep equipment running and/or allow time for orderly shutdown in the event of a power outage.
• Wireless network failover for maintaining a modicum of connectivity in case of a local fiber break.

People continuity: Businesses in earthquake-prone areas should ensure the safety of employees and other stakeholders (such as customers or suppliers) who may be on premises when an event occurs. Appropriate measures include:
• Picking “safe places” in advance, such as under a sturdy desk or against an interior wall away from windows or tall, unstable office furnishings.
Short distances are key, because statistics indicate that people moving as little as ten feet during a tremor are the most likely to be injured.
• Training employees in proper actions, such as waiting in their safe place until the shaking stops completely before attempting to help others, being prepared for aftershocks, using stairs instead of elevators, etc.
• Awareness of fire hazards and the location of fire extinguishers, as fire is a primary post-earthquake hazard.

Process continuity: The regional/local impact of earthquakes can be extremely haphazard, with some buildings suffering severe damage while nearby ones escape serious consequences. To be prepared for a worst-case scenario, businesses should:
• Plan an alternative means of performing everyday processes from home, a failover facility sufficiently distant not to be affecting by local seismic activity, or some combination of the two.
• Perform a damage assessment using a predetermined checklist and initiate remediation procedures.
• Pro-actively communicate with customers and suppliers regarding the status of the business and the progress of recovery, as well as policies regarding orders, shipping, accounts, etc.

Insurance considerations: Earthquake policies covering structural damage often have high deductibles, ranging from 2-20% of a building’s value. Insurance companies also tend to subject insured properties to rigorous inspection — and may require significant structural upgrades, such as bolting and bracing.

Take me back to Disaster Recovery.

Thank you for joining on this series on NATURAL DISASTER SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR BUSINESSES Part 5.

If you would like more information on Data Backup and Disaster Recovery, download your Free Business Advisory Guide Here.

Don’t worry about some person guy calling you from our office because you downloaded information off of our website. No one from our office will call you; I promise. We don’t like sales calls any more than you do! We understand if you’re not ready to do that, and if that’s the case, then just read these posts when they come out. We post on a regular schedule.

If you would like to chat about this, or anything call us at 503.359.1275

Dedicated to your success,

Wally Moore
dts|infotech . . . computer networks that work