Twenty years ago when Hurricane Andrew ripped through South Florida neighborhoods, we were not as reliant on electronic data as we are now. With another storm threatening to make landfall here, here are 10 steps business owners should take to safeguard financial records and other valuable data and keep their companies running smoothly after a natural disaster.

• Create an electronic set of backup records (e.g. bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies.

• Protect your IT network and electronic devices by moving computers, cables, printers, etc., away from the floor and windows and covering them with plastic garbage bags. If possible and practical, relocate electronic devices to an unaffected area and use remote servers. 

• Shut down all computers and monitors. Unplug all power cables and network cables to avoid power surges and lightning damage.

• Document valuables with photographs or videos of office contents and store with a trusted person who lives outside the area.

• Update company emergency plans, including planned timing for closing the business during a hurricane watch or warning.

• Form an emergency management team and assign specific tasks to each member.

• Identify staff, materials, procedures and equipment that are absolutely necessary to keep the business operating, and make plans to relocate essential personnel and equipment if necessary. 

• Update your communications plan, including a hotline or phone tree that provides employees with up-to-date information about the business’ status (open or closed) and allows management to confirm that all employees are safe.

• Create a list of customers whom you need to contact immediately, and keep their contact information accessible.

• Check on fiduciary bonds if you are an employer who uses payroll service providers; a bond could offer protection if the provider defaults.

To learn more about how to prepare your business and minimize the effects of a hurricane or other disaster, contact me

Jorge Rey, CISA, CISM, CGEIT is an associate principal and the director of information security & compliance for Kaufman Rossin Kaufman, Rossin is one of the top CPA firms in Florida.

Read Jorge Rey’s blog online.