Sandy Hook Chooses Love after Mass Shooting, A Reverend Rebuilds His Town after Tornado, and a Teacher Creates a Culture of Safety in Schools

Blog_HeaderEmergencies may occur when an institution is most vulnerable, and while it goes without saying– they do not discriminate because of the holiday season! The best defense against an event occurring is to make sure that you are prepared. While there are lessons learned along the way, it is the hard work of the community that make a recovery strong and prove that no matter the devastation, working together is the key to bouncing back and making it better than before.

These three stories in the news reflect the hard work to promote safety and collaboration of those hardest hit:

The effects of trauma, if untreated, can last a lifetime. Today, many schools are asking their counselors or nurses to become trained in psychological first aid (PFA) in order to be ready to assist the affected after a traumatic event. Visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network for more information: http://www.nctsn.org/content/psychological-first-aid-schoolspfa

Until a few years ago, very few ever considered the phase of Recovery before an event . Today, there are many mitigation measures that include building partnerships before an event, so that they are activated during the response phase of an incident and start the Recovery process immediately. These include debris removal, gutting services and demolition, bulk trash removal, water treatment and supply management, and partnerships with energy companies across the country that are available to respond in the event of an emergency. The Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) are also activated upon an event, and work closely with the Red Cross to provide support and relief services to areas and persons affected by disaster.

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Flooded: Keeping Your Business Out of Hot Water

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Fifteen inches of rain over the course of just a few days caused what is being described as a 1,000 year flood in the mountains of Colorado this past September.  Rainfall patterns turned rains into a biblical storm that ravaged the lands and forced unsuspecting residents out of their homes and a disaster proclamation. Now, while they rebuild, many wonder how they could have been prepared for something like this.

“The area has flooded before, but never like this.” With an increase in population in this country, paired with manmade and natural changes to the environment, we will see an abundance of climate-based devastation, yet the key is to find out how to be prepared. How do you prepare for a storm that had a .001 chance of occurring?

It WILL happen. This isn’t negativity, this is preparedness, and many people would rather believe the sun will always shine instead of invest in a gloomy uncertainty.  It can work to lessen the shock of the event, and allows people to think critically about their needs.

2013 Colorado Flood Photo Map - The Denver Post - Mozilla Firefox 1022013 113514 AM

Points on map reflect where flooding and damage occurred

Floods are the most expensive and widespread of all disasters. According to the Small Business Administration, businesses are more likely to flood than burn down, so it is vital to prepare now.

The following checklist from Agility Recovery will help keep your business afloat even if the worst happens. “The following resources and tools will help mitigate your risk and protect not only your business, but also the most critical element of your business – your people.”
Before the Flood

  • Review Emergency Plan with team, and key employees
  • Take all necessary steps to prevent the release of dangerous chemicals that might be stored on your property – locate main gas and electrical shut-offs and anchor all fuel tanks
  • Postpone any receipt of goods- deliveries, couriers, etc.
  • Contact insurance agent, discuss policy, etc.
  • Establish emergency communication method (Alert Notification System, phone tree, etc.); identify meeting place and time for all key employees in Crisis Management Team; create voicemail for when evacuated, or out of office, etc.
  • Update disaster recovery kits and begin crisis back-up procedures
  • Maintain accurate inventory of product on site
  • Use plugs to prevent floodwater from backing up into sewer drains, or install flood vents/or flood proof barriers
  • Stay tuned to local media & community messaging

During the Flood

  • Life safety is paramountBegin next phase of your business continuity plan
  • Send non-critical staff home
  • Raise elevators to the 2nd floor and turn off
  • Stay tuned to local media- evacuate when required
  • Take cell phones, charger, critical hardware, and emergency kits with you
  • Unplug electrical items before leaving
  • Consider your business phones and redirection to cell phones, an answering service, or Google Voice
After the Flood

  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage – water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded, roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet, mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals
  • Implement DR plan, and monitor local authorities’ communication
  • Contact employees via determined method of communication and discuss next stepsContact your insurance agent
Your People

  • Ensure you have an emergency communication plan in place prior to the storm, evacuation, or threat
  • Have all employees, vendors, and client contact information on hand
  • During evacuation have a central point of contact for all employees, and ensure you know where your employees are located
  • Following the flood, notify all critical people of next steps, based on damage

Helping to Mitigate your Risk for Flood Interruption:

Do You Know the Terms?
•Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
• Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
• Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning:  A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
For more information about flood prevention visit www.floodsmart.gov.

Cyber Security: Growing Trends and How-To Protection

Blog_HeaderIn this day and age, technology is accelerating faster than most of us can keep up. For businesses, knowing how to not only how to utilize technology to its fullest extent, but to also protect yourself from cyber predators is a highly necessary tool to prevent attacks that compromise your system, and the loss that follows. Once a system is compromised, attackers can access and harvest data such as user credentials, and steal your data, emails, credentials, credit card information, and more. The clean-up that these issues would entail is difficult to estimate, but with responsibility and effort, it is preventable.

One of the new issues emerging now involves smart phones and tablets as a target for cyber attacks.

The latest: “New capabilities, such as Near Field Communication (NFC), will be on the rise in 2013 and will increase the opportunities for cyber criminals to exploit weaknesses. NFC allows smartphones to communicate with each other by simply touching another smart phone or being in close proximity to another smart phone with NFC capabilities or an NFC device. This technology is (also) being used for credit card purchases… Risks associated with using NFC include ‘eavesdropping’—through which the cyber criminal can intercept data transmission, such as credit card numbers—and transferring viruses or other malware from one NFC-enabled device to another.”

We want to not only be unafraid of technology threats, but embrace technology to the fullest, which is easy to do by following these Tips for 2013, from the Chief Information Security Officer, State of Texas:

•Enable encryption and password features on your smart phones and other mobile devices.

•Use strong passwords that combine upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters, and do not share them with anyone. Use a separate password for every account. In particular, do not use the same password for your work account on any other system.

•Disable wireless, Bluetooth, and NFC when not in use.

•Properly configure and patch operating systems, browsers, and other software programs. Do this not only on workstations and servers but mobile devices as well.

•Use and regularly update firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-spyware programs.

•Do not use your work email address as a User Name on non-work related sites or systems.

•Be cautious regarding all communications; think before you click. Use common sense when communicating with users you DO and DO NOT know. Do not open email or related attachments from untrusted sources.

•Don’t reveal too much information about yourself online. Depending on the information you reveal, you could become the target of identity or property theft.

•Be careful who you communicate with or provide information to on social media sites. Those friends or games might be looking to steal your information.

Have you been affected by cyber attackers? Tell us your story! Krapp@rem4.net