A recent event in Oklahoma surrounded the topic of continuing business operations in the wake of a disaster

Oklahoma officials gather to address issues facing local businesses

When a natural or human-caused disaster strikes, business officials will need to act immediately or risk catastrophic consequences. As such, it is necessary to address emergency circumstances well in advance to handle any issues when they occur with as little chaos as possible.

In order to accomplish this level of preparedness, it is important for businesses to maintain the most relevant and up-to-date business continuity plan possible to ensure that a natural or human-caused disaster does not prevent them from keeping their doors open.

Illustrating the importance of disaster planning, citizens in Oklahoma gathered for an event entitled, "A Day Without Business: A Business Continuity Summit," to help diminish the negative impact of lackluster preparedness initiatives.

"Whether you run a large company or a small mom-and-pop business, our local economies depend on entrepreneurship and vitality of business," said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, according to a report published by Tulsa World – an Oklahoma news source.

And after a major tornado ravaged nearby Joplin, Missouri, in May 2011, the threat to business vitality in the region is clearly significant.

But, while the Tulsa World report mentions that larger businesses like Walgreens and Walmart have emergency plans in place, small businesses are often less prepared, and take longer to get business back on track.

Consequently, in order to optimize preparedness for small businesses, it would be wise to hire the services of certified business continuity professionals. These professionals can ensure that contingency plans are updated multiple times a year for maximum relevance, that employees understand the provisions of the plan and that hot sites have been secured to continue operations should a primary site experience a disruption.

Valuable insight into the best practices for disaster preparedness can also be gleaned by sending corporate representatives to attend the Contingency Planning and Management Conference taking place on April 3 and 4. More information and registration details on the event can be found here