June 1 marks the start of hurricane season in the western Atlantic. As the climate warms, the oceans warm which gives hurricanes more energy. They are becoming more frequent, more powerful and more destructive. If you work in, or plan to visit an area of high hurricane activity during hurricane season, do you have a plan to reduce this significant risk to life and property?
Make sure your business and/or your family are prepared. Considering the risks, preparing for them and then acting on your preparations when alerted by emergency officials are the best things you can do to stay safe and minimize impacts in any disaster.
Hurricane Preparedness for Businesses
There are a number of online resources that discuss how your business can batten down the hatches if a major storm is heading your way. A few of the best are here and here. But there’s no substitute for thinking things through and making conscious decisions in advance.
Based on experience, here are a couple of tips that might not be covered elsewhere:
- How windproof are your windows? Now is the time to find out their impact and wind ratings. If you rent, as many companies do, you might view structural issues as a building management problem. Your landlord may well be responsible for repairing/replacing windows, carpets, etc. But it’s your operation that’s at risk. If your IT equipment or paper records are destroyed by water, for example, the consequences could be devastating regardless of what rental contracts and insurance policies say. A cheap solution that gets the job done could be to shut down everything electronic and cover it with plastic tarps until the storm blows over.
- If your staff is planning to work from home, does your VPN have sufficient bandwidth to support that? Tropical storms often flood roads, preventing travel and knocking out telecommunications. Does everybody have a 2FA key fob or token, if required? Don’t let factors unrelated to the disaster thwart your plan.
- Does your plan take into account the absence of key skill sets? Many people take their vacations during hurricane season. For example, if Dave is your only Windows engineer, what are the ramifications if he’s on vacation when you suddenly need to resuscitate your Windows servers? If Dave is aware that he’s a critical single point of failure and needs to be reachable even when on vacation, make sure he can really be contacted wherever he is.
Hurricane Preparedness for Families
You don’t have to go overboard on family hurricane preparedness, but failing to prepare is the worst thing you can do. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”
Step One is to find out if you live in or will be visiting a hurricane evacuation area. If so, review the publicly available information about the evacuation plan and route.
Step Two is to stock up on supplies in advance and keep those supplies on hand. You don’t want to be waiting in a long, last-minute line at the hardware store or grocery store, only to find out they just ran out of what you need. If you can’t afford to buy everything at once, start with the essentials (e.g., water, snacks, flashlight, first-aid kit) and acquire more over time.
Step Three is to make a habit of tuning in to the three-day weather forecast. Three-day forecasts are highly accurate and can give you a good sense of predicted risk. Don’t wait until a storm is imminent before you start paying attention. The ready.gov website lists steps to take over time as a storm is approaching.
Step Four is to keep at least your car’s gas tank at least half full. That way if you need to evacuate, you won’t run out of gas in the ensuing traffic jam. You also won’t waste precious time struggling to pump gas along with all of the other unprepared people. If you’ve been driving all day to get to that Outer Banks beach house, fill up shortly before you arrive—it’s a good precaution.
If you’re impacted by a hurricane or other disaster, letting loved ones know you’re OK will save a lot of worry. One way to do that is to register at “safe and well” with the American Red Cross Safe and Well website. You can also search the “safe and well” registry for information about others.
Don’t Get Blown Away This Hurricane Season
The common theme across this advice is that it’s better to make conscious, risk-based decisions in advance than to be caught unprepared at the last minute. It’s all about stacking the odds in your favor.
To talk with an expert about helping your business prepare for the unexpected, contact Pivot Point Security.