Don’t Let Disaster Destroy Your Business

Another one of the educational sessions held during Honeywell’s First Alert Professional Convention at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes Resort Nov. 13-16 was “Disaster Preparedness.” The class, moderated by a Honeywell’s Brett Guillotte and featuring a panel of Gulf-based security dealers, addressed how to prepare for, deal with and recover from a major disaster – focusing mainly on those of the natural variety, and more specifically hurricanes. The material was made all the more compelling via slides and panelists—including Dale Nielsen of Brown Security Systems in Natchitoches, La.; Spencer Smith of Alarm Protection Services in Metairie, La.; and Paul Courts of Acadiana Security Plus of Lafayette, La.—who called upon firsthand experience contending with some of the devastating hurricanes of late and in particular Katrina.

Guillotte told the attendees that 30 percent of all American businesses are not prepared should a disaster occur. Following are some bullet points I took away from this session that I think are important for all security operators to seriously consider to be ready to carry on for the sake of the business, its employees and its customers regardless of the type of magnitude of disaster. Some may seem like no-brainers, but yet many of us fail to act on even the most basic prevention/preparedness measures – under after the fact when it’s too late.

· Create a written plan of attack

· Be prepared to move your entire central monitoring center

· Make sure you have as much cash on hand as possible as people except nothing less following a disaster

· Be sure to compensate employees fairly for overtime put in during a crisis

· Be sure to have a back-up generator

· Test everything beforehand

· Outfit all company vehicles with battery chargers

· Get your insurance squared away

· When the government urges people to evacuate – do so without delay

· Work closely with your IT folks of a plan to make sure all data is preserved, there are connectivity options, etc.

· Scan all documents and keep a backup of them offsite

· Be sure you have current contact info for all employees

Additionally, enlist an asset an asset protection manager to assist you after a disaster to formulate and execute a sensible recovery plan. The Katrina survivors who recommended these practices also shared tales, and in some cases photos, of the devastation they witnessed all too intimately when nearly all of New Orleans was underwater and other cities in the Gulf region were faced with comparable destructive forces.

Ironically, my only criticism of this class as it was too focused on hurricanes. While I am certain these practices are relevant for most any unforeseen calamity, it would have been nice to also hear about how companies have dealt with fires, earthquakes, power outages, etc. Have you or your company survived a disaster or major incident? If so, please share it right here on Under Surveillance.

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