siren activations may be unwittingly
“training” people to disregard the sirens.
For a business, false alarms not only
call the credibility of your warning system
into question, they can be costly (lost productivity) or even dangerous (unnecessary
movement of critically ill patients in a hospital). Meteorology today routinely differentiates between areas at risk of a tornado
and those safely beyond the reach of the
Business Continuity Lesson:
A commercial weather company specializing in the mitigation of the business
risks of extreme weather can minimize
false alarms while maximizing the safety
of your people and assets when a genuine
threat presents itself. The warnings can be
exactly tailored to the unique requirements
of your business. Thanks to the Internet
and easy access to radar, “everyone is a
meteorologist.” Too much information
from too many sources will lead to less
than optimal decisions.
Weather providers can provide actual
warnings that differ from those provided
by the National Weather Service (NWS).
This is important because many weather
providers simply “repackage” government
warnings. NWS warnings are valuable to
the public-at-large but a one-criterion-fits-all approach may not be suited to business
‘What If That
Some Timely Thoughts for Small Business
By KEN SCHROEDER, CBCP
As this is being published, the National
Weather Service is upgrading its radar network with “dual polarization” (DP) capability. Without going into the physics, DP
will allow more accurate flash flood and
hail warnings and will result in a slight
additional improvement in tornado warnings. That capability should be in place
in much of the U.S. by the 2012 tornado
The science of meteorology performed
in an outstanding manner during 2011’s
onslaught of major tornadoes. It is time to
take that breakthrough science and technology and leverage it to the benefit of
your business and your people.
Mike Smith is the senior vice president and
chief innovation executive of Accu Weather
Enterprise Solutions and is based in
Wichita. He is a board certified consulting
meteorologist and a Fellow of the American
My thoughts were swirling during the chaos and devastation as tornadoes marched across Mississippi, Alabama, and
Georgia during the last week of April.
Small businesses suffered catastrophes
ranging from total loss of their facilities to the inconvenience of not opening
because of lost power. They were shaken,
and shaken badly. Flood waters drifting
down the Mississippi River will also affect
unknown hundreds of small businesses
this summer – family tragedies, loss of
inventory, even loss of facilities.
While we criticize our teenagers’ driving attitude that says “it’ll never happen to
me” but some of us do the same things
when we conduct a risk assessment. Do
these thoughts sound familiar?
u We’re not in a flood zone, so we don’t need
to worry about floods.
u Hurricanes occur along the coast, not here.
We don’t have to plan for them.
u We have a generator, so we’ll always have
u We’re not in tornado alley, so our probability
of occurrence is really low.
u We’ll always have plenty of staff to open.
u We’re not a shelter. We don’t need a supply
of water or food.
u We have vendors to supply our inventory,
supplies, and some of our critical services.
u We have insurance to cover any physical
Maybe there is a basic systemic prob-
lem that most small businesses don’t have a
full-time business continuity planner. They
relying on education by osmosis and hope
to get enough information to begin thinking
about building a business continuity plan.