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Is Your Business Prepared to Handle a Natural Disaster?

Have you ever thought about how you would keep your home business running, or your clients updated, during an emergency such as a natural disaster?

I didn’t either until it happened to me and I was stuck.

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A PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED

I live in Eastern Ontario, and the weather events here are very mild. I’m talking about the occasional summer thunderstorm and the odd winter blizzard. We even get rain from dissipated hurricanes blowing in from the U.S. and the rare weak earthquake. Nothing that causes evacuations, casualties, and tragic damage.

THAT WAS UNTIL 3 TORNADOES HIT MY REGION IN ONE EVENING

On Friday, September 21st, three tornadoes touched down in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, devastating neighborhoods in Dunrobin, Gatineau, and Nepean. The tornadoes destroyed homes and caused extensive damage to the city’s electric power infrastructure.

Thankfully, my home was not damaged by the tornado that touched down and traveled to within 3 miles of my house in Nepean! I’m truly grateful for that.

My shelter wasn’t destroyed, however, I was a victim to the power outage that shut down most of the city. From approximately 6:00 pm on September 21st to 9:30 pm on September 23rd I had no power. My food expired, the house dropped to 66 degrees Fahrenheit, the shower water was ice cold, and I couldn’t access the internet to keep my home business running!

I know what you might be thinking…during a natural disaster, why are you thinking about your business Sarah!

INFORMING YOUR CLIENTS DURING A NATURAL DISASTER

If you run your business from home, and you’re the only employee, who is going to inform your clients of a disruption? What are your followers going to think when you disappear for however long it takes?

These were the anxieties going through my head when I had no power. You feel helpless to mother nature.

I have a virtual assistance business and people are relying on me to deliver every day. What are they going to think of my business if I can’t reach them or do the work I was contracted to do?

I did what I could during the emergency to keep my clients and readers informed. I went to PR mode.

The following afternoon, I hopped on a bus in search of somewhere in the city that had their power restored. Thankfully there was a small pocket downtown. I crammed myself into the overly packed Starbucks, full of people charging their electronics as well, and got to work sending out emails. I informed my virtual assistance clients of a disruption in my service and left messages on my social media accounts of what had occurred, why I wouldn’t be available.

There was little else I could do.

The natural disaster I experienced taught me a lot about emergency planning for home businesses.

HOW TO GET YOUR HOME BIZ THROUGH A LONG POWER OUTAGE

I’m writing this as a result of my experience with the Ottawa tornado and power outage so that you can have a better plan.

Your safety comes first, however, if you are able to do some damage control it is best to do so.

There were several supplies that I found essential to business during the power outage:

  • Gasoline or a loaded bus pass (in case you have to travel to access internet/charge your electronics)
  • Multiple power banks* for charging electronics at home during a power outage.
  • An emergency section in your business contracts (so you’re not liable for disruptions caused by acts of nature).
  • Flashlights (so your not using your battery powered electronics for lighting needs).
  • Emergency preparedness plan for your business (it is best to know what needs to happen and in which order).
  • Data on your mobile or tablet plan (I lost data for 12 hours during the disaster, however, when it came back on it was crucial to keeping people informed and staying up to date).

 

These supplies will allow you to contact clients, inform your followers and keep important parts of your business running during a long-term power outage.

Hopefully you never have to use these, however, I’ve now learned that it’s best to have a plan, just in case.

Share your natural disaster stories in the comments below! 

 

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