Florida IT Firm Advises Business Owners to Prepare for Irma
Hurricane Irma is locked in on South Florida and threatening to become a CAT 5 Hurricane. Businesses should be preparing for the possible effects.
Alltek Services, an IT firm based out of Lakeland, Florida, has shared with us their advice on protecting a business both before and during the oncoming storm.
STORE DATA IN THE CLOUD
Make sure all your systems are backed up in the Cloud just in case the power goes out. If you don't already have a business continuity plan in place, copy all important data to a Cloud service like OneDrive, Dropbox or iCloud to make sure your files are protected.
Since there is an advanced warning when a tropical storm or hurricane approaches, it's important to transport your data quickly and at the first sign of trouble.
SECURE YOUR SITE
Protecting your facilities and equipment is key to restoring operations in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane.
* Make use of an Uninterruptible Power Supply (batteries and generators), backup water source and a supply of gasoline-powered pumps to keep the lower levels of your facility clear of flood waters.
* Make sure you have surge protectors in place to ensure if the power goes out, so when it comes back on, there's little risk of power spikes and your IT systems getting fried.
* Board up of windows and other vulnerable areas to protect your building from high-speed flying debris.
* Sandbag any area that is subject to flooding.
* Secure electronics such as computers and other office equipment with straps or Velcro.
* Anchor large furniture (bookcases, shelves, filing cabinets) to wall studs.
* Relocate any valuables/petty cash to a safe location.
* Secure all utilities including water heaters, gas tanks, and heaters. If possible, raise them to higher locations to avoid water damages.
* Turn off all the utilities prior to a hurricane or tropical storm making landfall if possible.
DESIGNATE AND PROTECT IMPORTANT INFORMATION
* Designate important contacts to have that are crucial to business operations, such as employees, banks, lawyers, accountants, suppliers, etc.
* Backup documents that are not easily reproduced such as insurance documents, legal contracts, tax returns, and accounting statements to avoid water damage.
* Seal paper documents in waterproof containers on site if you can't take them offsite.
* Save all your designated contacts and documents in an alternate, accessible off-site location, and in the Cloud if you have them electronically. (Insurance company and agent's contact information are very important to have.)
* Take pictures of your business before the emergency.This will help you in case you have to file a damage claim.
* Relay Emergency contact information to employees such as the nearest hospital and police, along with: Life safety issues: 9-1-1, Small Business Administration (SBA): 1-800-359-2227, FEMA Tele-registration hot-line: 1-800-462-9022
NOTE: Identify your mission-critical applications, essential backup data, storage of data offsite, relocation/placement of your employees, remote equipment and access to equipment (networking), and identification of key personnel and beyond (in case these employees are unavailable).
FIND A PLACE WHERE YOU AND YOUR STAFF CAN OPERATE REMOTELY.
Inability to access your facility is a highly probable occurrence when a tropical storm or hurricane approaches. Roads may be flooded or closed, your employees may be unable to leave their homes in a state of emergency, or may be afraid to leave their families.
It's important to plan for contingencies so your employees can work remotely from their homes if possible. If employees must travel away from their homes to a remote location, address the financial implications of this now. Have cash on hand and expense accounts in advance for travelers. Consider pre-blocking hotel rooms if necessary.
IF ANY EMPLOYEES WILL BE STUCK IN YOUR FACILITY DURING THE STORM, STOCK UP ON THESE ITEMS NOW:
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
ESTABLISH A CRISIS-COMMUNICATIONS PLAN
Communications are important in any situation, but especially before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane. Set up a communication tree where one employee contacts two or three, and on and on. This way you can coordinate emergency activities, warn employees of impending danger, and maintain contact. Consider all types of communications, especially voice and data and ensure your team provides all forms of contact (cell, text, landline, email, etc.).
PUT SHUT-DOWN PROCEDURES IN PLACE
If you must shut your business down, work with your team to establish shutdown procedures and ensure that they are part of your overall recovery plan. Include startup procedure to facilitate re-occupation of your site after the storm is gone and it's safe to return.
The team at Alltek Services is ready to help any Florida business owners with their questions regarding hurricane preparation or post-storm recovery. Do not hesitate to contact their staff at (863) 709-0709 or email info@AlltekServices.com.
You can also download their Hurricane Prep Checklist here: https://www.alltekservices.com/hurricane-irma-preparation-tips-south-florida-businesses/