The Continuity Company Blog
Threat Thursday - Are You Missing Internal and Industry Based Risks To Your Company
Posted by Keith Erwood on Thu Jan 24 2013
Are You Missing Internal and Industry Based Risks to Your Company
When it comes to conducting Risk Assessments many companies are excellent at defining local and regional risks and natural hazards such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Yet, many companies overlook internal or industry related risks quite often. These risks also have a higher likelihood of occurrence for your company and are also the most likely to tarnish your image as well.
Consider taking a hard look at the risks that occur inside your own industry. What are those risks? What has happened inside your own company or that of your competitors over the last year? Five Years? Or even ten years? What happened to them? How did they handle it? What changes were made?
Can you come up with a plan of what your company should do to handle the same event? Better yet, can you implement steps now to mitigate or even eliminate such a risk from happening to your company?
Focusing on your internal and industry based risks will increase your visibility with clients, suppliers and industry competitors.
For more on how Continuity Company can help with your Risk Assessments Give us a call today – 877-565-8324
How To Effectively Measure Your Risk
Posted by Keith Erwood on Thu May 10 2012
Disaster Preparedness for Business starts with measuring your risk which is the first step in creating good solid and holistic business continuity and disaster recovery plans. So, how do you determine what your risks are and how do you assess them once you know what those risks are?
Most traditional methods of assessing risk are not truly measurable and are based on older methods of High, Medium, Low probability and High, Medium, and Low impact. Again, this is not really measureable and steps you take to mitigate the impact can really be assessed along with the occurrence.
If you can’t accurately measure your risks, you can’t accurately take steps to properly mitigate the impact of the risk. This is why several years ago I developed a proprietary method of risk assessment and measurement. The first step of this I will share with you and it is based on the older method, but as you will see it give you a better method of defining and measuring your risk and the potential impact across your business or organization.
With this methodology whenever you make changes or implement additional mitigations you can reassess and make continuous changes, since risks also changes periodically. It uses numbers from 1 to 5 with 1 being little to no impact and 5 being the most severe impact. This is measured across six key areas of your business giving you an average score of either L1 for the lowest risk and H5 for the highest risk.
Once you determine your highest risks you can take steps to prioritize and take steps to implement mitigations and incorporate these into your plan. Then work your way to your lowest risk and reassess and begin again. This should be a continual process to stay on top of your risks.
Click the link below for copy of our Risk Assessment Form
Risk Assessment Form
Need Assistance Assessing Your Risk? Call The Experts at Continuity Company
Preparing You Today, For The Unexpected Tomorrow™
Still Using Tape as Your Primary Data Backup Solution?
Posted by Keith Erwood on Thu May 10 2012
First, right off the bat I want to state that tape backup does have its place. With that said, it may not be the best solution the way you are currently using it. Tape has both advantages and disadvantages that need to be considered.
First we will cover the advantages:
- It’s better than not having backup at all
- Easy to Store due to small form factor (if you have the right environment)
- Easy to use for most people
Now for the disadvantages:
- Tapes are expensive
- Have a tendency to “get lost” or disappear especially in off-site storage use
- Prone to human error and mishandling – people forget to change or replace tape, dropped
- Prone to corruption
- Prone to degradation from heat, sunlight, humidity, moisture, liquids, dust, EMI
- Need to be taken off-site daily to provide good disaster recovery
- Increased risk when taken or removed from site
- Failure prone
- Can get stuck
- Need replacing yearly
- Recovery can take days or weeks to load from tape
With data backup solutions from the Continuity Company you get full automation requiring little to no human interaction, triple redundancy of data backups, granular and exchange recovery options and immediate access to files, applications and email even if the local application or server is down. Our data centers are fully secure, SAS70 Type II and AES 256 and SSL key-based encryption.
Call Now for a FREE Consultation
Disaster Preparedness for Business – The Continuity Company – Preparing You Today, For The Unexpected Tomorrow™
Struggling With Your Business Continuity and Crisis Planning?
Posted by Keith Erwood on Wed May 09 2012
Disaster Preparedness for business – Preparing you today, For the Unexpected Tomorrow™
Companies of all sizes struggle with business continuity and other emergency or crisis planning. Many feel overwhelmed and many more feel it is too daunting a task to take on, so they never get started.
Getting started however is as easy as making the commitment to begin your planning, who’s in charge of the planning process? Is the owner or management onboard? It is just that simple.
Once you have these answered you can move on to risks. Not sure about what you face? Just ask yourself what would have a negative impact on the business? What do you do to prevent it? Or, if you can’t prevent it, what do you do to work around the issue if it occurs?
If you still need help, that is why we are here. Give us a call and we will help you get started or take your planning to the next level. If you still need guidance try our free Business Continuity Planning Assessment forms to see where you stand today.
Earthquake Safety -- What to do Before, During and After an Earthquake
Posted by Keith Erwood on Wed Sep 21 2011
I'm frequently asked what you should do during an earthquake, and after the yesterdays (April 4, 2010) 7.2 Earthquake in Baja California, Mexico my in box gets flooded with requests on what is best and requests for posts on earthquake safety goes up.
Though I have posted Earthquake Tips before it is buried in a hard to find place, so to please my readers and those concerned here are some recent and up to date Earthquake Tips.
Here are some USGS Earthquake Preparedness FAQ's
NOTE: These tips are directly from FEMA
What to Do Before an Earthquake
Earthquakes strike suddenly, violently and without warning. Identifying potential hazards ahead of time and advance planning can reduce the dangers of serious injury or loss of life from an earthquake. Repairing deep plaster cracks in ceilings and foundations, anchoring overhead lighting fixtures to the ceiling, and following local seismic building standards, will help reduce the impact of earthquakes.
Six Ways to Plan Ahead
- Check for Hazards in the Home
- Fasten shelves securely to walls.
- Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass, and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
- Hang heavy items such as pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit.
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. These are potential fire risks.
- Secure a water heater by strapping it to the wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
- Repair any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects.
- Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
- Identify Safe Places Indoors and Outdoors
- Under sturdy furniture such as a heavy desk or table.
- Against an inside wall.
- Away from where glass could shatter around windows, mirrors, pictures, or where heavy bookcases or other heavy furniture could fall over.
- In the open, away from buildings, trees, telephone and electrical lines, overpasses, or elevated expressways.
- Educate Yourself and Family Members
- Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter for more information on earthquakes. Also read the "How-To Series" for information on how to protect your property from earthquakes.
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1, police, or fire department and which radio station to tune to for emergency information.
- Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
- Have Disaster Supplies on Hand
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
- First aid kit and manual.
- Emergency food and water.
- Nonelectric can opener.
- Essential medicines.
- Cash and credit cards.
- Sturdy shoes.
- Develop an Emergency Communication Plan
- In case family members are separated from one another during an earthquake (a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school), develop a plan for reuniting after the disaster.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Make sure everyone in the family knows the name, address, and phone number of the contact person.
- Help Your Community Get Ready
- Publish a special section in your local newspaper with emergency information on earthquakes. Localize the information by printing the phone numbers of local emergency services offices, the American Red Cross, and hospitals.
- Conduct a week-long series on locating hazards in the home.
- Work with local emergency services and American Red Cross officials to prepare special reports for people with mobility impairments on what to do during an earthquake.
- Provide tips on conducting earthquake drills in the home.
- Interview representatives of the gas, electric, and water companies about shutting off utilities.
- Work together in your community to apply your knowledge to building codes, retrofitting programs, hazard hunts, and neighborhood and family emergency plans.
What to Do During an Earthquake
Stay as safe as possible during an earthquake. Be aware that some earthquakes are actually foreshocks and a larger earthquake might occur. Minimize your movements to a few steps to a nearby safe place and if you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped and you are sure exiting is safe.
- DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
- Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
- Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
- Use a doorway for shelter only if it is in close proximity to you and if you know it is a strongly supported, loadbearing doorway.
- Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
- Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
- DO NOT use the elevators.
- Stay there.
- Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
- Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls. Many of the 120 fatalities from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake occurred when people ran outside of buildings only to be killed by falling debris from collapsing walls. Ground movement during an earthquake is seldom the direct cause of death or injury. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.
If in a moving vehicle
- Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
- Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
If trapped under debris
- Do not light a match.
- Do not move about or kick up dust.
- Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
- Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.
What to Do After an Earthquake
- Expect aftershocks. These secondary shockwaves are usually less violent than the main quake but can be strong enough to do additional damage to weakened structures and can occur in the first hours, days, weeks, or even months after the quake.
- Listen to a battery-operated radio or television. Listen for the latest emergency information.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
- Open cabinets cautiously. Beware of objects that can fall off shelves.
- Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organizations. Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
- Be aware of possible tsunamis if you live in coastal areas. These are also known as seismic sea waves (mistakenly called "tidal waves"). When local authorities issue a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
- Help injured or trapped persons. Remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance such as infants, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Give first aid where appropriate. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Call for help.
- Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline or other flammable liquids immediately. Leave the area if you smell gas or fumes from other chemicals.
- Inspect the entire length of chimneys for damage. Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire.
- Inspect utilities.
- Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
- Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker, call an electrician first for advice.
- Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap. You can obtain safe water by melting ice cubes.
More information for further reading:
Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country (read online)
Putting Down Roots in Earthquake Country (PDF Download)
Request Free Copies of Handbook
Enchando Raíces en Tierra de Terremotos (Leer en español)
Echando Raíces en Tierra de Terremotos (PDF)
Solicite una copia impresa en español
San Francisco Bay Area Region
Putting Down Roots in EarthQuake Country Bay Area Version
Protecting Your Family From Earthquakes - Spanish and English Version
Protecting Your Family From Earthquakes - English, Chineese, Vietnamese, and Korean Version
Living on Shaky Ground: How to Survive Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Northern California
7 Steps to an Earthquake Resilient Business
If you would like assistance in getting your business prepared Call the experts here at Continuity Co., LLC
This was originally posted here on The Disaster Preparedness Blog by Keith Erwood
Are You Prepared For an Active Shooter? Steps You Can Take To Prepare Today!
Posted by Keith Erwood on Tue Sep 20 2011
Recently I mentioned workplace violence and the need to address that issue within the business. Another type of workplace violence on the rise over the last few years is that of the Active Shooter, which is typically, but not always a disgruntled employee, customer, student or even an acquaintance of a current or former employee.
First, what exactly is an Active Shooter? The Department of Homeland Security defines an Active Shooter as: an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearms and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.
Before continuing on we need to clear up some misconceptions about active shooter scenarios and situations. First, it is not a new phenomenon. Active shooter incidents have been occurring for many years, and in the United States as far back as August 1, 1968 at the University of Texas in which 14 people were killed. I am excluding other events, and acts of violence to focus solely on active shooter type events.
Second, if we include Europe, the events go back to June 20, 1913 to an event known as the Bremen school shooting, in Bremen, Germany and in Canada as far back as October 10, 1902 in an incident known as the Altona schoolhouse shooting. So, contrary to popular notion these events are not exclusive to the United States.
Third, not all of these events occur at schools, but schools in particular have had quite a history of active shooter incidents and have security vulnerabilities that are likely to make them targets of future incidents.
What is the intention of the active shooter? The active shooter is often acting out of frustration and rage. They usually see their act as attempting to correct some event they perceive as a wrong that has been committed against them. The active shooter has a desire to kill and usually is not concerned with their own life, safety, or threat of capture. Active shooters will also usually have intended victims and will search them out. Active shooter will accept targets of opportunity while searching for or even after finding their intended victims.
Another thing to know about active shooters is that the active shooter will often move throughout a building or area until either stopped by law enforcement, they commit suicide, or are stopped by other intervention.
The active shooter situation is highly unpredictable and events involving active shooters unfold very quickly often ending within 10 to 15 minutes. This is typically before law enforcement arrives on scene. It is for these reasons that every business and school should be prepared to confront this issue and make it part of their planning process.
It is something most planners and law enforcement officials dread. The active shooter scenario is by many accounts difficult to plan for and often impossible to predict, especially the who, and when. But it is possible to prepare and train for it and even mitigate some of the potential of it occurring if done properly. Another step in preventing this scenario is dealing with work place violence and threats of violence appropriately from the onset as discussed in a previous article: .
What are some other things you can do to deter this event from taking place at your school or business?
- Have an active and highly visible security force and ensure they are trained and equipped to deal with such an event.
- Having both concealed and visible security cameras can also act as a deterrent.
- Have an electronic security system with electronic ID access for employees.
- Have all visitors, contractors, and guests to your facility sign in.
- Train employees to recognize trouble or potential issues early.
- Make counseling services available to those who need it.
- Have a notification and alerting system, along with procedures for its use during an active shooter situation.
- Post evacuation routes in hallways and near exits which are also removable so emergency response personnel can utilize them.
- Include your local law enforcement and other emergency response personnel in your active shooter training exercises.
- Create a respectful workplace.
What should you do if an active shooter situation does occur where you work or go to school? There are a number of ways to handle the situation, the first and often the best choice is to evacuate.
- Have an escape route plan in mind and use it.
- Evacuate whether or not other with you agree to follow.
- Leave all your belongings behind.
- If possible, help others escape.
- Try to prevent others from entering an area where the active shooter may be.
- Keep your hands visible.
- Follow all instructions from police officers.
- Do not attempt to move injured or wounded people.
- When safe to do so, call 911.
If you can’t evacuate, the next best option is to hide in a place where the active shooter is not likely to find you. The place you choose to hide should be out of view of the active shooter, provide protection if shots are fired in your direction and should not trap you or restrict your options for movement. When hiding be sure to do the following.
- Lock the door.
- Blockade the door with heavy furniture.
- Silence your cell phone and/or pager.
- Turn off any other source of noise such as a radio or television.
- Hide behind large items.
- Remain quiet and calm.
- Call 911 if you can to alert police to the active shooters location.
- If you cannot speak just leave the line open for the dispatcher to listen in.
Lastly, if evacuation and hiding are not options, as a last resort and only as a last resort, you can attempt to take action against the active shooter. You can do this by taking the following actions.
- Acting as aggressively as possible against the active shooter.
- Yelling at the active shooter.
- Throwing items and improvised weapons at the active shooter.
- Attempting to overtake and subdue the active shooter, but you must commit to your actions if you take these steps.
Once the police arrive on scene to an active shooter incident they will likely take action using the Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (IARD) so it is possible only one or a small team of police officers may enter the area or building the active shooter is in. In the past it was common for the police to wait for a SWAT team, but these incidents take place so fast, additional action was needed and IARD was developed in response to active shooter situations.
Be aware that police officers arriving on scene will be heavily armed, possibly with rifles and shotguns and may be wearing heavy outer bulletproof vests, helmets, and other tactical equipment. Be prepared for the police to take the following actions.
- The police will likely use pepper spray and or tear gas.
- Responding officers will be shouting commands, and may push or force people to the ground for their safety.
Here are some things you should do when law enforcement arrives on the scene.
- Listen for and follow the police officers instructions
- Put down anything in your hands, including bags, jackets, cell phones and keys.
- Immediately raise your hands and spread your fingers.
- Keep your hands visible at all times.
- Avoid making any quick movements.
- Avoid grabbing or attempting to hold onto the officers for their safety and yours.
- Do not make sudden movements towards the officers.
- Avoid screaming, pointing and yelling.
- Do not stop to ask officers for help or directions, just proceed in the direction from where the officers came from.
- Be aware that the initial police officers in the building will not stop to aid injured victims.
If you are able to successfully call 911 and speak with a dispatcher be prepared to answer the following questions.
- Location of the active shooter.
- Number of shooters, if more than one is involved.
- A physical description of the shooter(s).
- Type and number of weapons the shooter(s) may have.
- The number of potential victims that are at the location.
This is a fairly long list of things you should be aware of during any active shooting incident, and yet it is only just touching on the issue. One of the most important things is that you prepare, train, and if you can, involve local law enforcement and emergency personnel into your planning.
If you would like help in preparing for a scenario like this or any other issue contact us today or call 877-565-8324 and one of our experts will assist you.
Workplace Violence and What to Do About It
Posted by Keith Erwood on Fri Mar 25 2011
Most people consider their place of work safe and free from violence. No one really wants to think that when they leave for work they will have to confront verbal abuse, threats, or deal with physical assaults and homicide. However, workplace violence is a growing problem and concern for both employers and employees nationwide.
In fact, according to OSHA, two million Americans are victims of workplace violence every year. Additionally, people who work in certain professions also face an increased risk of violence. These professions include anyone who exchanges money with the public; delivers passengers, goods or services; people who work alone or in small groups; healthcare workers, social service workers, probation workers, gas and utility workers, phone and cable TV installers, letter carriers, and those in the retail industry.
Employers need to consider workplace violence as having the potential of happening in their office or place of business, and need to educate employees on how to handle such issues. For instance, the employer should establish a workplace violence prevention program, and ensure that all employees know the policy and have that policy within an employee handbook for starters.
Your workplace violence prevention program should contain is a policy to carry only a minimal amount of money, make drops into the safe often. Also, avoid traveling alone and avoid unfamiliar locations and situations whenever possible. Be sure to call the police after any violent incident, and keep a log book to document what happened.
Employers should also have policies in place to secure the workplace to prevent and deter any potential violence by having surveillance cameras, extra lighting, alarm systems, security guards, identification badges and if possible electronic key cards for building access.
There are a great many more things to include in your policies and training but this should get you started. For more information on workplace violence feel free to contact us and review the OSHA fact sheet on workplace violence.
I have another article coming up shortly which confronts a specific workplace violence issue – The Active Shooter.
What You Need To Know About Potassium Iodide or KI Now!
Posted by Keith Erwood on Wed Mar 16 2011
The news is reporting on people buying up Potassium Iodide also known as KI in droves and that suppliers have run out and are scrambling to make more. One supplier has also donated a large supply to Japan.
I also know several preparedness retailers who have also run out and have a large number of orders being placed that they can't currently fill. The two things that worry me about this is first, the people who may need them may not get them since the supply is short (though governments do have stock piles of them) and the second is the potential for people who should not be taking KI to have adverse side effects.
Some facts you should know about KI:
- KI only protects the thyroid gland from radioactive iodide
- KI does NOT protect the thyroid from other types of radiation
- KI does NOT protect other parts of the body internally or externally from radioactivity or harm
- KI has the potential to damage or cause swelling to the parotid glands (they produce your saliva)
Other side effects include: acne, loss of appetite, or upset stomach. More severe side effects which require notification of a physician are: fever, weakness, unusual tiredness, swelling in the neck or throat, mouth sores, skin rash, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains, irregular heartbeat, numbness or tingling of the hands or feet, or a metallic taste in the mouth.
Severe allergic reactions from taking KI are possible especially if you have certain food allergies.
People who should avoid KI:
- You know you are allergic to Iodine
- Certain skin disorders such as dermatitis herpetiformis or urticaria vasculitis
- People with thyroid disease (for example, multinodular goiter, Graves’ disease, or autoimmune thyroiditis)
Lastly KI is considered a possible teratogen (meaning birth defects or developmental issues in young people).