For companies located in colder climates, winter storms may range from a moderate snow in a short amount of time to a blizzard lasting for days. Some storms are regional and affect several states while others are more localized, depending upon geography and terrain. Business owners and managers typically have contingency plans for the staff but may not think of the consequences a storm can have on their business technology.
Severe winter weather can lead to a variety of disruptions and even business closures. The following points identify the areas of your business network that are most susceptible to winter hazards. To minimize damage and recover more quickly following a winter storm, it is a good idea to develop an action plan that includes the technology.
Use these preparedness tools to protect your business network from disruption.
Before the storm
- Check your insurance coverage for protection against winter weather events and confirm that you have coverage for damage to the technology.
- Put an emergency communication plan in place well in advance. Have employee, vendor and client contact information available to everyone who needs it.
- Can your employees work from home? Establish a plan for days in which employees are unable to come into work.
- Familiarize key staff with the procedure to restore electrical service to the network to minimize down time. Make sure your Uninterrupted Power Source (UPS) is able to protect equipment from a power Test your UPS devices to make sure they can carry the load for the time needed to do an orderly server shutdown.
- Determine your greatest risk potential: loss of heat, frozen pipes, and/or loss of access due to snow/ice.
- Identify who is responsible for keeping heating equipment in good working order and schedule regular checkups to catch any problems.
- Provide proper lubrication for cold weather operation (i.e., emergency generators, snow blowers). Test cold weather equipment.
- Establish what equipment needs to be protected from freeze-up (e. computers, telecommunications and manufacturing equipment). Are portable heaters and other emergency equipment available if needed?
- Monitor building temperature especially in hard-to-heat areas containing vulnerable It is especially important to install a device in the server room that will alert you when the equipment is in danger from the cold. Keep temperatures above 40°F.
During a storm on a workday
- Keep all employees posted on the status of the storm and determine who will be responsible for next steps.
- Locate and deploy heaters and other cold-weather equipment.
- If evacuating, redirect land lines to cell phones or an answering Keep names and phone numbers of your heating contractor, plumber, insurance agent, technology management provider and building owner easily accessible.
After the storm
- Assign someone to check indoor temperatures should the business be vacant for a long period of time. Have them remove sensitive equipment if it could be damaged by a long power outage.
- Make sure your employees are fully briefed and informed about any transport diversions or time changes. Based on damage, notify appropriate people of next steps.
- Assess the situation. Make sure heating systems and water pipes are working. Check buildings for damage (e.g., downed power lines or trees, accumulated snow or ice).
Protecting your business technology is key to fast recovery from a closure. A well-thought-out plan will minimize risk to the equipment and allow the staff to get back to work quickly.