Irma is making its way across the Atlantic, and it looks increasingly likely that it will impact the US East Coast. Now is the time, not a few days from now, to start running through your emergency plan for your company. If you don’t have one, here are 5 steps you must take.

1. Make A List of Your Equipment

Put together a list, a spreadsheet is best, with your equipment. Include make, model, serial number, and any other important details. Also take some pictures of the equipment. If anything is damaged, your insurance claims will go much more quickly with this list. And once you’ve created it, put it on your calendar to update it every six months.

As a bonus, this list also comes in handy when you need to know who each computer is assigned to. Just add a column in your spreadsheet for that, and you’ll know who is using what.

2. Decide On How You Will Communicate

If you have to close, how will you communicate this to your employees and your customers? And when will you make the decision? Know if you can setup a recording on your phone system that automatically plays when someone calls. Also, if you plan to put up a sign at your office, make sure you’ve designated someone close by who can get to the office to get that sign posted.

Don’t forget to ensure that the contact information, especially cell phone numbers, you have for your employees is up-to-date. Cell phones should be the best way to communicate. And, if you plan to have managers let their teams know, make sure they have their team members’ contact info already accessible to them outside of the office. There’s not much worse than getting ready to start calling your team, only to discover that all their contact info is at your office.

Make the decision on any closings or delays as early as possible to give everyone time to plan. Expect conditions to vary widely, so you may have employees who are stuck at home, while others have no problems getting in to the office.

3. Verify Your Backups

Any backups you have, and hopefully you have offsite backups of all important information, need to be tested. Make sure that they are current, and try to restore a few files and open them.

If you don’t have a current offsite backup, buy an external hard drive and backup important information to it. Then take it with you when you leave the office. It is a quick temporary solution that will help if your equipment is damaged. But if you use this temporary solution, be sure to get an adequate backup solution in place after the threat from Irma passes.

Now is a good time to be sure that you have backups of anything important. Sometimes computers get replaced, but backups aren’t setup for the new systems. Make sure that every system you have has anything important backed up.

We have a normal schedule where we verify backups for our clients, but we will be doing a backup verification this week for everyone, just to be extra cautious. The last thing you want to find out is that your backups weren’t working AFTER a disaster moves through.

4. Know How to Access Email Outside the Office

Make sure your employees know how to access their email outside the office. If they have email on their phones, then that will be fine, but not everyone does. They need to know what website to go to in order to check their work email, and make sure they know their email password and have tested it. The last thing you want to be dealing with is calls from employees who can’t get into their email to get retrieve some critical information.

5. Prepare Your Equipment Before You Leave

This step should be taken when you leave the office for the last time before Irma is expected to impact your area. There are two very important things to do here, and they will take a few extra minutes, so plan accordingly.

First, and you can do this step this week, long before any impacts, make sure that any computers and important equipment are elevated off the floor. If you leave them on the floor, and there is even the slightest bit of flooding, they will be fried.

The second step is for you to turn off and unplug the power cable from your computers and important equipment. If you don’t get flooding, but Irma makes landfall near you, you’ll get a lot of lightning. This can easily pass through your surge protectors and into your computers. You can avoid that by disconnecting these devices from power. Make sure to do this for your server, as well, before you leave.

Taking these measures within the next couple of days will go a long way to preventing future problems. Since we’re right in the path of hurricanes, we can’t afford to not take precautions. Even though you weren’t impacted, Harvey should have been a wake up call, so make sure to take these steps to help protect your company from Irma.

Stay safe, and if you would like any extra assistance in implementing these steps, reach out to me. It’s going to be a busy week at Parkway Tech, but I want to help your company avoid Irma’s wrath.

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