With the 2012 hurricane season intensifying, MIR3, Inc., the innovator of real-time Intelligent Notification and response technology, reminds employers to review current business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR) plans to be prepared to protect employees and keep operations running in the event of a hurricane or tropical storm.
Although the 2012 season was expected to be lighter, it's proven to be more active than predicted. Tropical Storm Isaac, which is expected to make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane in the next day, is disrupting operations in and along the Gulf Coast. Offshore drilling operations have been evacuated, cutting off 24 percent of the current daily oil production and eight percent of natural gas production, according to the bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The Republican National Convention has been delayed, and FEMA is preparing New Orleans for the onslaught with emergency supplies and fresh water stores while some low-lying wards are enacting self-evacuations. Thousands on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on are under mandatory evacuation. The storm has already claimed the lives of at least 24 in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Employers with staff and operations along the Gulf Coast are preparing for the wide array of risks associated with Isaac and other potential storms. Events to anticipate if threatened by a hurricane or tropical storm include mass power outages, storm surges, high winds, debilitating property damage and potential harm to employees. Many of these occurrences can negatively affect ongoing business operations, and although it may be impossible to prevent a business interruption, those that have prepared in advance may take less time to recover from severe weather.
Advancements like sophisticated mass notification software give organizations under threat of severe weather a way to communicate with employees, partners, and customers during interruptions due to natural disasters like hurricanes.
In an effort to reduce the impact of natural disasters in the workplace, MIR3 executives are offering businesses the following tips on best practices to follow when examining BC/DR plans:
- Understand BC/DR needs -- In the wake of an emergency, it's critical for companies to maintain clear and effective channels of communication to quickly assess damages and coordinate recovery. Because essential business operations can be affected by any level of interruption, companies must realize the importance of investing in important message delivery systems to deliver essential communication to employees and first responders
- Choose a feature-rich notification system -- When selecting a notification system, be certain your system offers two-way communication over a variety of channels, including landline, mobile phones, fax, SMS, Blackberry PIN-to-PIN, email, and more. These advanced features are essential in the delivery of important and urgent information when communication infrastructure is compromised
- Update all contact data -- Regularly check your potential recipient lists to ensure that all contact information is up-to-date so when a disaster occurs you can be confident that notifications are being delivered to the right person on the right device
- Create escalation plans -- Crisis situations demand that specific people are contacted about a situation that needs immediate attention. Intelligent Notification systems include integrated mechanisms that support a call escalation process. If the first person contacted is not the correct individual for the situation, the notification system will automatically contact the next appropriate person according to pre-determined processes
- Train your personnel -- When creating BC/DR plans, it is essential to properly train personnel on how to use notification software so they can monitor the entire alert process. Studies show that companies who educate their employees correctly achieve significantly greater response rates
- Test your systems -- Test alert systems during normal business hours and address any glitches to be certain that notification will be delivered successfully when the need arises. At least two system tests per year is a recommended
- Encourage all employees to sign-up for notifications -- Automated notification works best when all user contact information is saved within the system's database so that staff can be alerted immediately during an urgent situation. This ensures the reliable and speedy delivery of important messages at the right time, to the right person, on the right device
- Establish steps to follow after the disaster -- Once severe weather has passed, business continuity management programs should specify procedures to help bring business operations back to normal as soon as possible. These measures will enable organizations to return to productivity as quickly as possible and will help better prepare for future crises