Once disaster strikes, there is very little time to prepare as you’re forced to react to the situation life abruptly dumped in your lap. The best way to deal with such unpredictable scenarios is to simply prepare for whatever the weather may throw your way. How you prepare will ultimately depend on your environment, which for many of you is probably both the homefront and the business venue.
Staying Emergency-Ready at Home
Sound disaster preparedness in the home is a combination of stocking up on the essentials and checking useful resources on a regular basis. Here are a few simple things you can do to prepare for moments that come from the deepest of left field.
Make room on the grocery list. Get into the habit of buying extra canned goods, freeze dried foods, any other foods with a long shelf life during routine grocery shopping trips. Instead of storing them in the kitchen cabinet, keep extras in the garage or another location that allows for easy access when needed.
Create a fresh water flow. The general rule of thumb tells us to keep enough water on hand to supply each person with three gallons over three days. Ideally, this would cover drinking and other uses as well. Be sure to monitor commercially packaged water by expiration dates and store in a cool, dark place to optimize shelf life.
Check smoke sensors. The National Fire Protection Assocation recommends installing a smoke detector in every room , outside of each sleep area, and on every floor of your home. These alarms should be tested monthly and have their batteries replaced at least once a year.
Keep light sources powered. A recent night of camping in the dark, eerie wildnerness gave me an idea how valuable flashlights and electric lanterns can be in an emergency. Stock up on extra batteries and occasionally check your devices to make sure they still work.
Build a communication toolkit. Whipping out a functional cell phone may not be an option in an emergency. A set of energy efficient two-way radios that gives you the ability to communicate might come in handy when phone lines aren’t available. It also wouldn’t hurt to keep spare room in your backpack for items like pencils, pens, notebooks, envelopes, and postage stamps.
Restock medical supplies. Whether it’s bandages, antibiotic ointment, or cotton swabs, be sure to replenish any items used in your first aid kit. Check this kit roughly once every quarter to make sure you’re not running low, and replace expired items if need be.
Tuck away for a rainy day. There are a number of miscellaneous items you can add to your emergency kit over time. An extra set of keys. The income earned from working a couple hours of overtime. A deck of cards to lighten the mood. Small things we take for granted today can make it much easier to cope on a dark, disastrous tomorrow.
Disaster Preparedness in the IT Space
Disasters, both natural and manmade, can render a business near powerless by taking out its most important IT resources. The remnants of a fierce tornado might cripple power at the grid and knock your systems offline in the process. A thief could break into the office, and make off with your equipment and all its sensitive data. Anything can happen, which is why testing is so critical to disaster recovery and business continuity. Testing your core IT elements is the most effective way to make sure that you continue to operate during an emergency situation – or at least rebound in timely fashion.
When it comes to accessing disaster preparedness on the IT side of things, testing is often a matter of what, who, where, and how.
What. Organizations should test all the vital IT components that are most vulnerable to disaster. Test your servers and network equipment to see how fast it fires back up. Test your legacy machines to ensure that they’re suitable backups if your new hardware fails. Test your backups to make sure they can be fully restored.
Who. A disaster preparedness team is necessary to streamline the testing of these mission-critical systems and functions. This team should be comprised of personnel across various areas, including IT, human resources, and senior management.
Where. Testing can be conducted in numerous locations depending on where your IT assets are hosted. For instance, if you keep everything in-house, then it can be handled onsite at your facility. If you use colocation for physical storage, then you need to coordinate with the service provider so your team can conduct tests at their data center.
How. How often IT systems should be tested is an answer that varies from one company to the next. It could be something you do twice a year, or every quarter for an added peace of mind. What’s most important is rolling these components into a full-scale testing strategy so you not only survive, but thrive when disaster strikes.
Disasters are often followed by chaos and uncertainty. Whether you’re affected at home or in the IT environment, your level of preparedness will have a lot to say about your ability to return to normalcy.
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