Natural Disasters: Planning for the Unexpected

Stay Informed

From tornadoes and hurricanes to floods, earthquakes, and ice storms, Mother Nature has many ways of threatening your business. When disaster strikes, it’s important to have a predetermined plan in place to minimize downtime, injury, and loss of valuable information. To help you prepare before a catastrophe strikes, consider a three-pronged approach to your disaster plan.

By protecting your people, data, and business infrastructure, you can be ready to resume operations as soon as possible. Here’s what you should consider.


Exit Signs Help Employees Know Where to Evacuate in an Emergency

1. Protect Your People

When creating your disaster prep plan, consider whether your facility is properly prepared to keep your employees safe in case of an emergency. Find a partner to help you safeguard your facility, ensuring proper notification processes and tools are in-place should a hazardous event occur.

When creating your disaster prep plan, consider whether your facility is properly prepared to keep your employees safe in case of an emergency.

Emergency Notification System
Emergency notification systems ensure safe and effective evacuation during an emergency. An on-site review of emergency notification systems can identify gaps in evacuation plans and systems. Upgrade your response strategies and signaling technologies with a focus on potential risks to human life and property.

Hazardous Environment Lighting
Identify durable lighting solutions best-suited for your specific environment. Examine current lighting and electrical systems in harsh and hazardous environments to help eliminate maintenance costs, reduce SKUs, improve safety and reduce energy consumption and related costs at the facility.

Chemical Management
Proper chemical management can reduce the risks to people and property during an emergency. Conduct an in-depth, plant-wide chemical use survey to identify improvements for product applications, storage, OSHA/EPA compliance and risk “hot spots.”

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Conduct an on-site evaluation to identify opportunities for closing PPE compliance gaps, replacing/upgrading equipment, and managing PPE inventory. Assessments can be done for whole body protection or specific protection applications.

Safety Labels and Signage
Assess critical visual communication needs for your facility, along with the status of all safety labels and signage. Be sure to provide a variety of visual communication options that protect not just employees, but guests, contractors, and the general public.

Spill and Leak Remediation
Assess safety risks throughout your facility by conducting a survey that will provide recommendations for spill and leak prevention and corrective responses, including substrate-to-spill compatibility and options to address workplace safety needs.

Wet and Damp Areas
Liquids have the potential to impact manufacturing performance. Review the current state of electrical systems to identify potential safety and maintenance issues such as power failure, contamination, corrosion, liquid ingress, or other problems that can negatively impact operations.


Employees Evaluating the Efficiency of a Data Center

2. Protect Your Data

You rely on your data to support all aspects of your business. To reduce liability and potential loss of valuable information, seek out solutions that fit your business needs before a sudden outage occurs.

IP Addressing
IP addressing can help reduce installation time of security cameras. Add cameras and network devices with proper IP addressing and documentation to eliminate out-of-box failures, reduce installation time and provide easy jobsite identification to help monitor and evaluate site emergencies and weather-related conditions.

Rack and Stack
Pre-configure any physical hardware to help reduce potential downtime in the event of a disaster. Pre-assemble rack and/or cabinet components in preparation for temporary data center support.

Data Center
Evaluate the efficiency of your current data center and project future capacity needs. Conduct an overall health assessment of any critical power and cooling systems, cataloging existing infrastructure and identifying operational efficiencies. Find a partner who can recommend ways you can optimize your data center, taking into account future growth projections as well as emergency readiness.


Employee Reviewing Response Protocols and Procedures for Critical Systems

3. Protect Your Business Infrastructure

Proper protection for your business infrastructure is crucial to ensuring that your business remains profitable after a disaster happens. In addition, having sufficient inventory in place to support your business is critical. Review your current processes and look for ways to enhance them, ensuring downtime is minimized to the greatest extent possible.

Emergency and Disaster
Review or establish response protocols and procedures for critical systems. Undergo strategic material planning to ensure continuous operations during an emergency or a natural disaster. This includes designating alternate inventory locations, contingency stocking levels and establishing kitting of critical components and safety equipment.

Power Quality
Protect critical equipment and prevent unexpected outages to maintain power quality. Identify improvements to your system’s resiliency, opportunities to reduce repair or outage costs, and strategies to extend equipment life with a complete power factor and power quality audit.

Conduct an audit of your sourcing channels to ensure comprehensive product offerings and timely deliveries during a disaster. Identify a partner with custom catalogs that meet your critical inventory needs, who offers competitive prices, and provides timely delivery for spot-buying. In this case, seek a partner with established national and local supplier relationships, including green procurement services.

Storeroom Management
Increase efficiency and provide greater inventory control by evaluating your storeroom management procedures. In some instances, you can rely on a partner to help manage some or all of your storeroom’s inventory, evaluating levels, and material management practices to better classify, track, and control your facility’s supplies.

Kitting helps to streamline ordering processes and reduce unnecessary downtime. Pre-package multiple components into one kit to reduce errors, improve material handling, and minimize startup time for temporary power solutions.

Lean Warehousing
To run a more organized and efficient critical recovery plan, apply Lean principles to inventory organization, storage, layout, flow and handling processes. Optimize inventory levels and provide timely access to critical spares replenishment.

Product and Supplier Rationalization

Streamline your supply chain processes. Working with fewer suppliers and stocking fewer products means an easier material response plan, easier maintenance practices and less downtime.

Outlast the Storm

When a disaster occurs, by being prepared, it won’t take you down. Spending time to plan and prepare will help protect your most valuable assets and get business back up and running again as soon as possible. From ensuring that your employees understand safety signage to easily find an emergency shelter, to having a clearly defined response protocol for your critical systems, each step will help improve your response to a disaster.

Need help getting started? WESCO offers a wide variety of solutions to help you prepare for a disaster and be ready to resume operations afterwards as soon as possible.

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