The month of December brings with it the official end of the hurricane season and the beginning of an equally formidable threat, Old Man Winter. Hurricanes, blizzards, ice storms—it’s enough to send a chill down the strongest network backbone.

That’s because natural disasters can test even the strongest business continuity plans. Power outages can shut down an entire data center, flooding can compromise copper lines and strong winds can knock out wireless towers. Yes, Mother Nature has a knack for whipping up the perfect storm where enterprise communications are concerned.

Just look at last year’s record-breaking winter or, going back a few years, to Hurricane Sandy.

74% of businesses affected by Sandy were closed for at least one full day.

Another 44% of those businesses stayed closed for over a week. Imagine not being able to send or receive calls from customers for an entire week. Could your business survive an extended outage like that?

It’s not that enterprises don’t recognize the importance of having a disaster recovery plan in place. It’s just that they have it in the wrong place.

More than half of enterprises locate their disaster/backup systems in the same physical location as their primary system.

That will afford them protection in the event of a hardware failure, sure, but not against natural disasters like flooding, fires or storm-related outages.

In a bit of irony, it turns out that the safest place to be in a storm is the cloud. Moving IT and communications into a geo-redundant cloud provides a safe haven against natural disasters. So long as your employees have an Internet connection, they can continue to access their unified communications (UC)—phone, email, IM, videoconferencing, collaborative apps—from home, even if your office is literally underwater.

Moving functions to the cloud is typically seen as a cost-oriented move to reduce capex and minimize opex, but it’s increasingly being used for its built-in disaster recovery features as well. Building a premise-based UC solution can be expensive; building two of them in different locations even more so. With a cloud-based UC service, there is no disruption to business continuity during an emergency—everything works just the same in the office, at home or on the road because it is the same.

The problem with disasters is that we rarely see them coming. But you can plan ahead, and cloud-based communications are a smart way to make your critical business communications disaster-proof. After all, nobody wants to leave their customers or employees out in the cold for days.