Office Depot (NYSE:ODP), a leading global provider of office products and services, is urging small businesses to take the simple and affordable steps necessary to get prepared for the 2010 hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts 14 to 23 named storms this season and eight to 14 hurricanes – three to seven of which are expected to be category 3 or greater.

During recent inactive hurricane seasons, businesses facing economic challenges might have chosen to forgo some preparations. But business owners cannot afford to be complacent and risk losing their vital information and assets. According to NOAA, warm Atlantic Ocean water and upper atmospheric winds are likely to foster storm development, resulting in a busy hurricane season. In the event of a storm, Office Depot encourages its customers to be proactive and protect their valuables – their people, data and property – to help ensure their businesses can quickly get up-to-speed and back to business following a storm or a power outage.

Office Depot has the resources business owners need to weather any storm.

“It is important that business owners acknowledge this year’s active storm forecast and make sure they are prepared,” said Bill Gavin, Director of Global Business Continuity for Office Depot. “Take the necessary precautions now so your business can be safe in the event of a storm.”

According to The Hartford Financial Services Group, more than 40 percent of businesses that experience a disaster and have no emergency plan never reopen, and of those that do reopen, only 29 percent are still operating two years later. 1

Office Depot advises small businesses to take the following steps before a storm or to help protect your business in the event of potential disruptions:

Protect Your People

  • Build solid contact lists. Include names and phone numbers of employees, vendors and emergency agencies. Have contact lists stored both inside and outside the office and perhaps kept in the possession of two or more trusted managers or staff members.
  • Establish emergency communications procedures.
  • Organize supplies. Ensure you have sufficient water, food, and janitorial products, and that your company has access to cash, generators, and Energizer® batteries. Also consider the Eveready® Flashlight.
  • Provide employee assistance. Train at least one staff member in CPR and first aid and, if possible, prepare family disaster kits and alternative family housing.

Protect Your Data

  • Some companies looking to cut costs have increased the use of computer automation, making them more vulnerable to outages. Copy electronic data to a USB memory stick, CD-ROM or DVD-R using your PC’s optical drive to help the company be capable of rebounding faster.

Use a portable hard disk that can back up your entire PC disk drive at the touch of a button or use a ruggedized laptop computer that, like the other data copies, can be unplugged and taken with you to safeguard data against any emergencies.

“Having and executing a contingency plan is the quickest way to recover from a disaster,” Gavin said. “Business owners should schedule periodic reviews to make sure their plan is in sync with their business. By doing so, businesses can turn their preparedness plan into a recovery capability.”

via TheStreet by Business Wire

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