Hurricane Florence has come and gone but the aftermath for many in its path will go on for months, even years. As we look back at this first hurricane of the year there are many lessons to be learned.
The number one lesson to be learned for both homeowners and businesses alike is that preparation and proactive planning limits loss and disruption. For most, this means sand bags, boarding up windows, gathering supplies, and finding safe shelter.
Today, as both homeowners and business people we have another concern that has not been addressed by the extensive media coverage of Florence. We must take precautions and safe guard our digital assets as well as our physical assets.
It’s going to be a busy hurricane season this year so let’s take a moment and consider what proactive steps we can take to mitigate as much loss as possible.
Personal Property and Digital Assets (Homeowner)
- Call your insurance company in advance of the storm to understand the limits of your coverage and the processes involved in submitting a claim. Keep your insurance information and policy with you if you need to evacuate.
- Understand your evacuation route ahead of the storm. Know where you are going and how you are going to get there.
- Secure your physical property as thoroughly as possible.
- Have the necessary supplies and equipment ready ahead of time for the aftermath. Make sure the items you need for clean-up are functioning properly and are in a place that you can get to them easily.
- Prepare a hurricane preparedness container ahead of time. It should contain the basic necessities needed to help you survive until help arrives.
- Secure your digital assets. If possible, take laptops and computers that contain your personal records and emergency information with you when you evacuate.
- If you cannot remove your digital assets, have an ongoing backup plan so that if your assets are destroyed you can pull all of your data from an off-site storage location.
- Buy an external USB charger and have it fully charged before the storm arrives. Your phone will be critical to you in the event of a power outage or worse.
- Don’t forget, your information and data is going to be critical in helping you get back on your feet in the event of a disaster. If you proactively store, organize, and protect your data, it will be there for you when you need it most. Disaster brings disarray. The more organized you are the smoother your recovery will go.
- FEMA Tele-registration hot-line: 1-800-462-9029
Business Property and Digital Assets (Business)
According to hurricanesafety.org, businesses should consider some of the below items to help prepare for the threat of hurricanes and how to protect your business during and after a storm.
If You Have A Physical Storefront
Consider investing in and install shutters or plywood in order to protect windows and doors from wind borne-debris. Also, don’t forget about the roof of your building. Evaluate it to ensure that it can withstand the high winds of a storm.
If your building is in a flood prone area, place sandbags in any area of your building that might be subject to flooding.
Internally, anchor and brace any large furniture (bookcases, shelves, filing cabinets) to wall studs, relocate any valuable or fragile possessions or inventory, secure electronics such as computers and other office equipment or relocate them to higher ground if possible to avoid water damage, and turn off all utilities prior to a hurricane making landfall.
Put a Plan in Place
Designate important contacts to save that are crucial to business operations, such as employees, banks, lawyers, accountants, suppliers, etc.
You also should consider backing up all documents that are not easily produced such as insurance documents, legal contracts, tax returns, and accounting statements. Using both a physical and cloud base back-up solution is ideal. Learn more about the 3.2.1 back up strategy. In addition, physical papers and documents should be sealed in waterproof containers.
Make sure you have the essentials should you become stranded at the office. Put together a hurricane kit that contains a battery-operated radio or television, first aid kit and first aid manual, flashlights, batteries, light-sticks, tool kits, camera and/or filming equipment for documenting any damages and taking inventory of per-hurricane status, whistle, signal flare, tarps, plastic bags, duct tape, cleaning supplies, fire extinguishers, electric generator, etc.
Keep cash, ATM cards, credit cards and proper identification in a safe place as well as emergency contact information such as the nearest hospital, police, Small Business Administration (SBA): 1-800-359-2227, FEMA Tele-registration hot-line: 1-800-462-9029 and insurance company and agent contact information.
For a complete checklist, visit www.hurricanesafety.org
This business checklist is a great starting point to prepare for a future event. Remember, being proactive all year around, having a plan of action, and a checklist is key to your business continuity. Be prepared! If you need more information or help in developing your digital security preparedness plan give us a call at The Tek. Keeping small to medium sized businesses secure and operational is what we do!
Rick Miller is COO and Partner of The Tek, an MSSP specializing in risk assessment, risk mitigation, protection, and education to SMBs. Rick is a long-term veteran in the IT industry. His success has been founded in propelling start-ups and turnarounds to success and profitability. His experience has helped to grow multiple companies from start-up to profitability.