Hurricane Harvey Means Your Baton Rouge Emergency Preparedness Plan Must Be in Order
Although we’re used to storms like Tropical Storm Harvey bearing down on us in Baton Rouge, local business owners are still underprepared for disasters, by and large. For those of you who feel underprepared and need some assistance, we’ve put together some information that’ll make sure your business’ Baton Rouge hurricane emergency preparedness plan is in order.
Utilize Cloud Data Storage
First, all your IT systems should be backed-up in the Cloud in case the power goes out. Should you not 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.
And, consult with our business continuity experts!
Even though we get advanced warning when a tropical storm or hurricane approaches, it’s still important to back-up your data as soon as the alarm has sounded.
Securing Your Brick-and-Mortar Offices
Protecting your facilities and equipment is critical to restoring operations in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane. Your emergency response plan should include the following:
- 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.
- Also, make sure you have surge protectors in place 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 windows and other vulnerable areas to protect your building from high-speed flying debris.
- Sandbag any area that’s 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 damage.
- Turn off all the utilities prior to a hurricane or tropical storm making landfall, if possible.
Designate and Protect Critical Information
More points within your Baton Rouge hurricane preparedness plan should include:
- 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 onsite 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 need to file a damage claim later on.
- 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
IMPORTANT NOTE: Identify your mission-critical applications, essential backup data, offsite data storage, 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).
Designate a Remote Workplace for You and Your Staff
The inability to access your workplace is highly probable when a tropical storm or hurricane strikes. Roads may be flooded or closed, your employees may be unable to leave their homes in a state of emergency, or may be reluctant to leave their families.
It’s important that your Baton Rouge hurricane preparedness list covers your employees being able to work remotely from their homes, if possible. If employees must be away from their homes in a remote location, you should determine the financial repercussions of it ahead of time. Have cash and expense accounts available in advance for travelers. Consider pre-booking hotel rooms if necessary.
For Employees Caught in Your Facility During the Storm
During hurricane preparation for your Baton Rouge business, the following items should be gathered in one location at your place of business if the storm hits while you or your staff are on premises.
This will help protect the safety of your staff members should disaster strike during regular working hours and without adequate notice, as will the following:
- A battery-operated radio or television
- Non-perishable three-day food supply
- A three-day supply of water (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
- A 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
- An electric generator
- Gas for vehicles, generators and other equipment
- Cash, ATM cards, credit cards, proper identification
Establish a Crisis-Communications Plan
Communications are important – especially before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane. Establish a communication tree where one employee contacts two or three, and on and on, so 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.).
Have Shut-Down Procedures Ready
If you need to shut your business down, work with your team to establish shutdown procedures and ensure that they are part of your overall disaster recovery plan. Include startup procedure to facilitate re-occupation of your site after the storm is gone and it’s safe to return.
Contact us now at (225) 706-8414 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for further help in establishing an emergency preparedness plan in Baton Rouge, via Puryear IT – among the most trusted disaster recovery experts in Southern Louisiana.