Most people would associate the risk of earthquakes with well-publicized and seismically active areas like California, parts of Washington State (especially in and around Yellowstone National Park) and some areas of Nevada and Utah.  However the risk of earthquakes covers a much larger area of the United States and Canada.

The following checklist covers some basic points to consider in preparing for an earthquake which will help you recover more effectively in the aftermath.

In the aftermath of an earthquake, these contingencies will prove vital activities ensuring that any damage to your business and resources are minimized.

Before the Earthquake

  • Be aware of your risk level.  Add a map to your DR plan and make sure everyone is aware of the earthquake risk level in your specified region.
  • Think about communications, since the chances are the phone company and possibly cell towers will be down.  Your disaster recovery/response team will need to be in immediate contact with one another to ensure that your plan is activated and moving forward as quickly as possible.  Think about two-way radios or text messages.  An Alert Notification System is also an invaluable communication resource.
  • Develop a plan around communication, and deliver this to your team.  Be sure to clearly identify each individual’s roles and responsibility prior to the earthquake. 
  • Implement structural and non-structural hazard mitigation actions: bolting furniture to walls, ensure hardware and technology are secure, safety latches for cabinet doors, install fire sprinklers, use hook and loop fasteners to keep computers and other equipment from falling.
  • Discuss coverage with your insurance provider.  Understand your extra expense, and business interruption policies, before the interruption occurs.
  • Contact your property owner or facilities manager and ask about having a laminate or plastic film placed on the inside of the windows to prevent glass shattering and endangering employees.
  • Assemble and store emergency supply kit - for 3 days minimum (see checklist for emergency supply kit).
  • Assemble building site maps and floor plans identifying exits, fire escapes, stairways, utility valves and shutoffs, fire extinguishers, hydrants, and standpipes, hazardous materials, and locked or restricted areas.  Include these in your plan.
  • Prepare your building for an extensive power outage and look at power options, particularly generator requirements. Contact a local electrician for assistance with this.
  • Review your current data back-up procedures and consider contracting with a datacenter or collocation facility that is in a different part of the country (one not prone to earthquakes, hurricanes or any other kind of aggressive natural events).  Back up all your data to them on a daily (or at least every other day) basis, so that in the event you lose your networks and servers you can be back up and running and restoring your saved data to replacement equipment.

Download this checklist for tips on how to cope during and after the earthquake.