Planning Security for Hurricanes
Now that we’re well settled into the chaotic hurricane season of 2019, many organizations are wondering how to prepare. In the most recent example, Hurricane Barry caused major issues as it approached the U.S. and made landfall in Louisiana and continued north to Arkansas. One of the greatest concerns for nearby states was flooding from the rainfall, up to 17 inches in height.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen a lot of risks that often go ignored until a crisis occurs. Many businesses need to start adapting and adding hurricanes to their security plans. The NOAA reported that in 2018, we had had 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and two major hurricanes – above the average. These numbers don’t seem to be declining, and the University of Arizona forecasted 2019 will have 16 named storms, 8 hurricanes, 3 major hurricanes. This leaves the question, is your business planning for hurricanes?
As with all weather, you can’t really anticipate where exactly a storm will hit or how much damage it will cause, so it’s the best course of action to plan for the worst when evaluating your assets. As a company headquartered on the coast of Florida, this is a panic we are all too familiar with. Fortunately, we’re here to share some advice to help you plan ahead and gain peace of mind.
Take note of all critical assets within your organization. These are considered essential, and without which, would make it extremely difficult for your business to continue to function. In most cases, these would consist of:
2. Data/ Products/ Machinery/ etc.
Employees are obvious, and are one of your greatest investments as a corporation. Ensuring your employees are safe guarantees that business processes can resume as normal once the inclement weather has passed. Even if your physical location has taken damage, certain aspects of business can resume remotely.
You preparations outside of staff can vary widely based on your business. Do you store data? Do you have a warehouse full of product that can’t be moved? Is this something that can be replaced by suppliers in time? What about machinery? If you are a manufacturer, do you have extra parts ready to ship to customers in case workflow gets halted for two weeks? Where are all of your facilities located?
Hurricanes can also affect inland locations, even as they lose energy over land. While the risks and possibilities can vary greatly, the first step is to list what could impact you, and what your response would be. The takeaway message here is to think about the unique risks to your business well in advance. Hurricanes don’t just appear instantly, so you will even have a warning window allowing you to remind everyone of the protocol you have put in place.
Approaching Hurricane Checklist
As a potentially disastrous storm approaches, you shouldn’t leave preparations to chance. Having a set list to follow will ensure nothing is overlooked amidst the chaos.
1.Review Business Contracts
Don’t wait until the storm has passed to try and figure out what’s contractually obligated – either to you or from you. Do clauses exist for weather-related incidents that allow for delay in services? Perhaps there is a monetary fee involved? Check through all your agreements with vendors, suppliers, landlords, insurance agents, etc. so that once you find out about an incident, you already know how to react and what to expect.
Some businesses will turn their facility into a shelter for employees and their families, should it be deemed a safe place to hide during the storm. In this instance, make sure protocol is well documented on what is acceptable behavior and note the location of fire escapes, restrooms, water, etc. For locations not suited to withstand a storm or simply aren’t permitted to take on the risk of allowing employees to stay there, provide well documented evacuation plans or state-provided emergency tips on staying safe.
3.Back up your data
In preparations for a worst-case scenario, always assume you will lose everything. While physical things can often be replaced without too much fuss, data can be invaluable. Back up everything to an offsite location, or preferably, set up cloud-based systems. This ensures all crucial data stays safe and accessible.
It’s vital to have an established communication method. This helps update employees as information becomes available, such if the hurricane has changed directions, lost momentum, if the facility will be closed for a few days, etc. While the method may vary, most companies will have an emergency communication system that will communicate by voicemail, text message, or push notification through a company app. It’s ideal to allow employees a predetermined method of communicating back, such as following a hierarchy chart, to ensure everyone is accounted for and can get any questions answered.
Who is responsible for different aspects of the business during the storm? If remote activity is allowed, ensure they will have internet. It’s very easy to let employees take laptops home to resume work once the storm has passed, but roads may still be blocked or flooded. You may also work in a business that requires at least a skeleton staff to keep running, perhaps to operate emergency generators or security systems remain operational. In a retail environment, organizations may choose to keep security on site to prevent theft. Map out all required functions, then establish who is responsible and ensure they are able to do their job.
In addition to the items on the checklist, companies should have a practiced contingency plan and business continuity plan that is accessible to all staff members. Above all else, know that lives are worth more than the cost of anything else, so evacuate if signs point to serious danger.
Take advantage of a free trial of our SecureWatch software to make sure you’re prepped. You can perform a physical security assessment, review emergency policies and business continuity plans, store contracts, store proof of compliance, and much more. Remember that secure, web-based programs such as SecureWatch are great for storing data and having some type of communication between team members.