Security First IT

Hurricane Season Preparedness

Hurricane season is officially here. In fact, as I prepare this post, North & South Carolinians are closely watching Hurricane Florence this week.

With this in mind, let’s look at some ways you and your business can be prepared for a hurricane.

Business Continuity Plan

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP), simply put, is a plan for staying in business after a natural disaster strikes. In certain regulated industries, like healthcare, a BCP is a regulatory requirement.

According to FEMA, if you do not have a BCP for your business, the likelihood of your business surviving is not very good.

Even if you are not concerned about a hurricane, the risk of any natural disaster is the same. Being prepared is the key. Since we are discussing hurricanes, I will keep it focused on that topic.

People

It is amazing how many organizations do not think of their people while developing a BCP. During a disaster, you need to be prepared to address many concerns that your staff and your customers will have. Here are a few to consider:

  • Who is calling the shots?
  • Does everyone know what their role is?
  • Who is in charge of paying vendors that you may need for an emergency?
  • Who is going to address the media, if necessary?
  • How will your employees & customers get information from you (website, social media, smoke signals)
  • How will you address employee’s needs (can’t get to work, loved one is hurt, they are hurt, no communication)
  • If your business and employees are not affected by the disaster, what can you do to help your neighbors who were affected?

Systems

From an IT perspective, your data is the most valuable asset your business owns. Financial information, customer lists, accounts receivables, critical documentation, and business data are just a few of the examples of data that your business can’t lose. What are you doing to protect your data? Do you have good backups? Have those backups been tested? Do you know how to recover the data? How long will it take? There are a lot of questions you should have the answers to before disaster strikes.

What other systems might you need to consider:

  • Mechanical Systems
  • Fuel Systems
  • Electrical Systems
  • Communication Equipment
  • Surge Protection Equipment
  • Utility Connections
  • Rooftop Structures
  • Water & Sewer
  • Potable Water

Structures

Structural risks are often a concern after a hurricane. You may have downed trees on the building, severed utility lines, and flooding. Here are some areas to consider for structural preparedness.

  • Electrical Systems
  • Roof Systems
  • Skylights
  • Gables
  • Soffits
  • Gutters & Downspouts
  • Wall Systems
  • Openings (doors, windows, garage doors)
  • Canopies, Awnings
  • Flooding (get computers off the floor)

Preparedness Checklist

The below items should be gathered in one location at your place of business should a storm hit while you are on premises. This will help protect the safety of your employees should disaster strike during regular working hours and without ample notice.

  • Battery operated radio or television
  • Non-perishable three-day food supply for you and your employees
  • Three day supply of water for you and your employees (One gallon of water per person, per day)
  • Coolers and containers for water and washing
  • Blankets, pillows, cots, and chairs
  • First Aid Kit and first aid manual
  • Flashlights, batteries, light-sticks
  • Toolkit (basic tools, gloves, etc.)
  • Camera and film for documenting damages
  • Whistle/signal flare to signal for help
  • Tarps, plastic bags, duct tape
  • Cleaning supplies, including mops, towels and garbage cans
  • Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers
  • Electric generator
  • Gas for vehicles, generators and other equipment
  • Cash, ATM cards, credit cards, proper identification
  • Emergency contact information such as the nearest hospital and police, along with:
    • Insurance company and agent’s contact information
    • Utility companies
    • IT company
    • Other critical business vendors

Being prepared is the key to getting through a disaster. I’ve only touched on a small portion of what a complete Business Continuity Plan would cover. If you would like for us to help you prepare a comprehensive BCP for your organization, please let us know.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, check out https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes

Remember to stay safe and always put people first.

by J. David Sims

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