Seras assists businesses all over the greater Columbia SC area with computer backup and security solutions; business continuity plans; computer, server, and complete network backup systems; and much more. In advance of recent storms, we contacted all of our customers with customized security preparations related to each of their specific networks. How can the average consumer protect their systems, data, and their homes?
The recent flooding in the Carolina's that has damaged 1,000's of homes highlights the need for a disaster recovery plan for your critical documents. What if priceless family pictures, the deed to your house, your birth certificate or military records washed away (or went up in smoke)?
Unfortunately, not enough people have a plan. About 60 percent of people are not prepared for a disaster, even though 8 in 10 Americans live in places that have been hit by a weather-related calamity, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. We are especially prone to hurricanes here in the south. Here are some things to be aware of to keep your family, your equipment, and your critical information safe.
Use the cloud
In addition to originals, consider making electronic backups. Depending on the disaster and especially during a flood, you might not be allowed back into your house for a while and you'll want to start rebuilding your life right away. Cloud storage is the safest bet, giving you access to your documents from any computer or device.
Shut down, unplug, raise and cover
In preparation for a storm’s arrival, always shut down powered equipment using the standard protocols - i.e. computers shut down using the operating system and not manually “pressing the power button”. Unplug all powered equipment from wall outlets including network cables. Many of our customers experience damaged network cards in their computers after a power surge because they unplugged the power cords but not their ethernet cables and a surge ran through the network cables! We always recommend that computers and critical network equipment be placed at least 2 inches above the floor, but this is especially important in advance of a storm with heavy rain and wind or freezing temperatures - burst pipes flooding onto the floor and damaging equipment is quite common. Finally, if there is any chance of roof or ceiling flooding and leaks, we recommend covering critical network components and computers with waterproof plastic material.
Know the types of flood risks in your area. You can visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for information. You should also sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts. Make sure your smartphone is set to receive "Emergency Alerts". If flash flooding is a risk in your location, which is the case in many parts of SC, then monitor potential signs, such as heavy rain. Learn and practice evacuation routes, shelter plans, and flash flood response. Gather supplies in case you have to leave immediately, or if services are cut off. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets. Obtain extra batteries and charging devices for phones and other critical equipment. Purchase or renew a flood insurance policy. It typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect and can protect the life you've built. Homeowner’s policies do not cover flooding. Get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Keep important documents in a waterproof container. Protect your property. Move valuables to higher levels. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves and consider a sump pump with a battery.
In the Aftermath
Electrical hazards are one of the many hazards that can occur in a flooding incident involving potential exposures to harmful substances, or contact with energized surfaces or energized water itself. During a flood, a hazardous flow of electric current can occur from submerged or damaged electrical equipment and the associated risk of electrocution from water damaged appliances. During the cleanup and recovery phase, possible electrical hazards include using powered hand tools in a wet environment or reusing electrical appliances, lighting or other electrically powered equipment which was damaged and no longer safe to use.
CNBC (2016, February 19). Disaster Recovery
www.ready.gov (2017, April 20). Official Website of The Department of Homeland Security