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How to Prepare Your Business for an Approaching Disaster

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Hurricane Florence, a powerful Category 4 hurricane, is threatening North and South Carolina with a direct hit this week. The rapidly intensifying storm also has the potential to stall near or just offshore, potentially impacting the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with devastating winds, extreme storm surge, heavy rains, and extensive flooding.

In many cases, these conditions can result in power outages, so in advance of the storm’s arrival this week, CMIT Solutions suggests some basic precautions that will help you prepare for the storm and get assistance if needed. Even if you’re not situated in the possible path of Hurricane Florence, these tips will work well in preparation for and response to any natural disaster.

WHAT TO DO NOW IN ANTICIPATION OF A DISASTER:

• Ensure that your data is completely backed up, both on-site and in a remote location. Saving your data in two different locations can help you weather even the strongest of storms.

• If you have a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) battery with surge protection, make sure the unit is connected and any auto-shutdown software is installed and operational. A sudden loss of power can damage computer equipment and a UPS can prevent that damage b maintaining power for a short amount of time.

• If you do not have a UPS battery connected to each device, shut down your PCs, servers, printers, and other equipment and disconnect from power. This is especially pertinent if you expect or are prone to power outages.

• If your office lies in a flood-prone area or is located near a body of water, move devices to the highest spot possible in your office. Moving equipment off the floor to a desk or shelf can often spare it from the worst if floodwaters enter your building. Desktop computers, monitors, and telephones should be placed in industrial-strength trash bags where possible. Remember that any files stored on desktops that are not backed up should be copied to a server or otherwise backed up to reduce any risk of loss.

• Enable remote access to your data if you or your employees needs it to work in the days leading up to and immediately after the storm. Once preparations have been put in place and you and your employees are in a safe location, there’s no harm in trying to maintain some semblance of normal operations. Often the businesses that survive a natural disaster are those that can keep up communications with clients and bounce back once the storm passes.

If you need assistance with any of the above actions, contact CMIT Solutions immediately.

WHAT TO DO AFTER A DISASTER HAS PASSED:

• Never use candles or open flames indoors. Rely on a flashlight or LED lantern for emergency lighting.

• Assess and document any damage to your home, your office, and your equipment. Photographing and documenting any issues can help immensely down the line as insurance claims are filed and replacement equipment is procured.

• When assessing damage, NEVER attempt to drive through standing water. As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle — and one to two feet of water will carry away most cars. As we say in Texas, where CMIT Solutions is headquartered, “Turn around — don’t drown,” a lesson that was highlighted last year in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

• Remove and discard any porous organic materials that have become visibly wet or contaminated by floodwaters. These can contain mold spores or other dangerous toxins that can damage equipment, even if it looks untouched.

• If using a generator, ensure that the main circuit breaker is off and locked prior to starting the generator. This can prevent costly damage to your main breaker and office wiring.

• Implement your disaster recovery and business continuity plan as soon as it’s viable. Recovering data, reactivating undamaged equipment, and returning to the normal flow of day-to-day business can help your company beat the odds and bounce back from a natural disaster. The Small Business Administration estimates that nearly 60% of businesses that are affected by a natural disaster never recover.

If you need help with any of the above actions or don’t have a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place, contact CMIT Solutions immediately.

In the wake of Hurricane Florence and in preparation for further disasters to come, CMIT Solutions is offering a free situational assessment for businesses that suffer water damage of any kind. We stand ready to do whatever is needed to help you resume normal operations and recover your critical business information. If your systems have been submerged or exposed to the elements, do not power them on — doing so can worsen the damage already done and make it impossible to recover your data.

It will take days, weeks, and perhaps months to fully account for the impact from Hurricane Florence and any other storms that threaten the United States this fall. As small business owners ourselves, CMIT Solutions understands the need to assess damage, recover what is salvageable, and then take the first steps toward returning to normal operations. That’s why we stand ready to help any business affected by Hurricane Florence. We are in it for the long haul with you.

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