Why preparing for natural disasters is essential for your family and your business.

The storm sets in, and the light flickers. A moment later, darkness—and the power is out at your home and office.

Our lives are driven by modern conveniences. We flip a switch to brighten a dark room or plug in a charger in order to bring our phone, tablet or computer back to 100 percent battery life. We connect to a cable or wireless network to move our documents and videos and communicate professionally. We open our refrigerator door expecting the food inside to be fresh and unspoiled.

Yet it is our comfort with these very conveniences and our assumption that they will always be here, fully operational, that can become our greatest threat. In today’s modern countries, we are not prepared to live in a world without power, stocked grocery shelves and clean drinking water.

If you live in an area that receives seasonal snowstorms, you know what the bread shelf and milk refrigerator at your local supermarket look like the day before an impending storm. Our society doesn’t prepare; our society merely responds. And, most of the time, responding works. But when it doesn’t, it can have an extreme impact on organizations, the people who work for them and their families.

At home, you probably have a few flashlights and maybe some spare batteries. At work, your offices and data centers (the Cloud, basically) rely on backup power generation facilities. Although office backup power doesn’t typically last as long as data center backup power, this common setup is adequate for most issues. But when the power is out for days—or even weeks—and your employees can’t come to the office, your resupply contracts for power generation at your data centers won’t be as helpful as planned.

Even if your data center has power, employees who don’t have power in their homes won’t be able to access the services provided from the data centers once all their batteries run down. The exception will be for those who purchased an in-home generator or a whole-house generator. Those people prepared; they did not merely react.

Sometimes even preparation is insufficient to help your family or your business in times of extreme crisis. An entire region of the United States was overwhelmed by Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history—despite the fact that everyone knew the storm was coming.

Luckily for us, these Black Swan events remain few and far between. Still, they give us reason to pause and learn how to be better prepared. In times of mass emergencies, the systems we rely on for everyday help—power, supplies, even 911 services—may not be there. On an average day, if you have an emergency in the U.S. and dial 911, you will get an appropriate and rapid response. If all the people in your area or region are dialing 911, you can expect to be on your own for a while. How long is awhile? I like to go with the standard used by emergency services, 72 hours.

So, ask yourself: Are you prepared to provide what is necessary to keep your business and your family self-sufficient for a 72-hour period with no power, no transportation, no access to new food and no clean water? Most of us are not. For the sake of your business and your family, be prepared.

For more information, visit, ready.gov, a great resource to help you plan for and be prepared for surviving at least a 72-hour period where you are on your own.

By Ben Halpert
Originally published December 20, 2016 on worth.com.