Hurricane season officially takes up half the year – from June through November – which means there's plenty of time when your business could be impacted by a major weather disaster. With a hurricane being capable of causing flooding and significant damage to your place of business, one of the most important preparation steps you need to take is ensuring that your vital business documents are protected.
Use this guide from the flood-preparation experts at ServiceMaster Restore to help you determine which documents need special attention, how you can store them, and where you should keep them.
Business Documents to Protect
There are many different company documents you will want to protect from flood damage. Think employee information, customer records and legal documents, for example. Anything that you'd need to produce in the event of an audit is also important to protect. Make an inventory of the following paperwork for safe storage as part of your business' flood-preparation efforts:
- Employee hiring records
- Employee social security numbers, tax histories and evaluations
- Company tax records
- Accounting records
- Insurance policies
- Workers' compensation claims
- Mortgages or rental policies
- Emergency contact information and numbers
It's also a good idea to talk to your business attorney about any other documents that you'll want to store in a safe location.
Make Backup Copies
Once you've identified your most critical business documents, take the time to scan them and create digital copies to save. Of course, digital files should be always treated with the same care as private or sensitive business and personnel files – this means access should be restricted to only those who also have access to paper versions.
Make sure to back up files on a regular basis so any documents you recover later are all current. This function should be centralized through your IT department if you have one, while smaller companies need to coordinate departments like human resources, accounting, and legal to ensure everyone does their part to back up their work on a regular basis. Backups should always be stored on a separate hard drive or storage device from the primary copy.
Where to Store Your Documents
Digital backups are of no use during a hurricane or other disaster if they're destroyed along with the rest of your building. The easiest way to avoid this possibility is to use an off-site or cloud backup service for your digital files. You can also make periodic, additional backups to a separate hard drive, optical disk or flash-memory device and store it at home or another safe off-site location.
For hard copies of your important documents kept on-site, consider investing in a fireproof and waterproof safe. Assuming the safe doesn't get swept away by wind or floodwaters, your documents could even be waiting for you safe and sound after the disaster. If not, at least you'll have your digital copies to fall back on.
A hurricane or other flooding event can have a severe impact on your business. While buildings can be repaired and equipment replaced, important documents can be difficult to recover. Smart flood preparation involves knowing what to protect and how, so use this guide as your starting point to keep your vital business documents safe from destructive floodwaters.
And if your business is hit by a flood, ServiceMaster Restore can help. Our commercial document drying services and electronic restoration can restore your valuable and irreplaceable items, and our recovery experts can get your building back to pre-disaster conditions. Contact us today to learn more about how we help businesses get back up and running.