Andrea Danti - Fotolia

Should my risk assessment plan include severe weather events?

Your organization's risk assessment plan should account for the increase in severe weather events and the damage they can cause.

Natural disasters and other severe weather events seem to be occurring more frequently, and organizations should...

be mindful of this when creating their risk assessment plan. Outcomes of these incidents are often harsher than in previous years (e.g., Hurricane Sandy), causing billions of dollars in damages. And weather-caused events often result in disaster declarations by state governors and even the president.

Despite advances in forecasting technology, the extent of storm-related damage depends on many variables, such as the level of awareness of the people affected and how they respond. Certain natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis) may be well beyond our ability to predict, leaving us no time to initiate early warnings.

Any well-designed business continuity (BC) or disaster recovery (DR) plan relies on a detailed risk assessment in the discovery phase of the project. The following should be included in a comprehensive risk assessment plan:

  • An analysis of environmental risks to primary and alternate locations, such as the weather history of the region (both historical and recent)
  • The office's proximity to a flood plain or earthquake zone
  • Proximity to major highways and rail lines
  • Proximity to large bodies of water, such as rivers and oceans

Monitoring and assessing weather activity and trends are key risk assessment strategies within a BC/DR program. The principal weather advice is to be more proactive about identifying and analyzing weather trends and reviewing reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Weather Service, AccuWeather, The Weather Channel and other organizations.

From a practical perspective, it's worthwhile to have your facilities team examine the physical attributes of your office building -- windows, doors, the roof and power protection equipment such as surge suppressors and lightning arrestors -- to see if they are sufficiently secure and can mitigate the effects of severe weather.

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