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U.S. Winter Outlook: Warmer North, Cooler South – How Will Your Plan Adapt? This Month in Business Continuity

If you’re reading this you already know that September is National Preparedness Month and if you watch Game of Thrones you know that winter is coming. Both are true and September is a great month to celebrate preparedness given that it’s usually the peak month for hurricane activity and yet fall is right around the corner. And now that we’re close to being on the heels of what’s been another blessedly quiet Atlantic tropical storm season, it’s time to shift attention to prep for potential winter disruptions.

Does your winter plan need to be updated? As you discuss what could be cut and what needs to be added, a great motivator for your team is to ask what lessons were learned from last winter. Depending on where you’re based, records both high and low were set across the U.S. and the nastiest of the truly bitter cold didn’t hit the Northeast until late in January and into February. Were any resources mistakenly re-allocated away from preparedness before the severe punch late in the season? What was the impact on the company and what could have been done more efficiently?

2015-09 Weather MapI’ve watched seasonal weather outlooks evolve in quality and specificity for more than 20 years – trust me, they’ve gotten a lot better at it – and NOAA’s current take on a continuing strong El Niño deserves respect – most of the other outlooks I’ve looked at concur with their position. Short version: warmer than usual in the north, colder than usual in the south and some rain for the West Coast, which can be both a good and a bad thing depending on how you feel about flash flooding and mudslides. Be informed, prepare and build robustness to protect against black swans. (And despite all this, always plan for the event, not for the seasonal outlook.)

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Personal Continuity: The Pros and Cons of Medic Alert Apps

We’ve all had ICE contacts on our phones for years and medic alert apps (link spoiler: awesome stock photo!) have been around for a while but now there are some newer ones that provide even more specific information to medical professionals in case of an emergency that involves, well, you. The good news is that these apps provide a great deal of information about you should the need arise. The bad news is that they provide a great deal of information about you to anyone who gets a hold of your phone. Unless you have a severe chronic health issue, is it worth the risk? Let us know what you think in the comments section. Knock on wood, I’m fairly healthy so for now I’m just sticking to the ICE. So to speak.

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Deployment Housing: Perfecting Your Backup Plan

Last week there was yet another great ACP Webinar Series presentation, this time by our own Michelle Lowther entitled, “How To Get What You Need From Hotels When Your Plan (And Your Business!) Depend On It.” If that topic interests you, all I’ll say is that the presentation is most definitely not a commercial and that it garnered a 4.6 out of 5 (92% excellent) average survey ranking by the people who attended live. Go watch and share it around because doing so will make you look good. In a nutshell, it very comprehensively details the many items you need to factor when including deployment housing in your BCP.

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Five Ways To Make The Most of Hotel Loyalty Programs

I’m not a regular follower of something called theeverygirl.com but I saw this the other day and thought it worth passing along. A couple of the pointers are just good common sense but two of them resonate: utilize your points for more than just travel (think local perks) and take advantage of discounts and benefits with program partners.

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Marriott Tests In-Room Virtual Reality Service

With competition ever fiercer, hotels continue to ramp up their customer enticements, and the latest comes from Marriott, piloting virtual reality headsets that guests can borrow for 24 hours at two flagship properties in New York and London. The 16-year-old in me absolutely loves the idea but 95% of what I use a hotel room for, whether traveling for business or pleasure, is to sleep. It’s a neat perk but after a long day of doing whatever, I don’t know if I need to strap on a headset for a quick trip to the Andes. What do you think about this one?

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Saudi King Books Entire Hotel

Speaking of black swans, we’ve all heard of entire floors being booked by royalty but the entire hotel?  How’s THAT for an unexpected potential interruption of your deployment accommodations plan? I worked in VVIP travel and event management for more than 20 years and things like this happen way more often than is covered in the media. Always, always hedge your bets.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.  Subscribe to the Continuity Housing blog (in sidebar at right) and follow us on Twitter, on YouTube, on LinkedIn and on Facebook.  To subscribe to our mailing list and/or if you’d like a free 30-minute planning session, let us know.

The Illogical Irony of BC Professionals Who Don’t Have A Bug-Out Bag of Their Own

With the start this week of the 2013 Atlantic tropical storm season – and indeed as tropical storm Andrea is currently punching a few holes into Florida – we’d already planned on posting about the need to update your home survival kit: three days’ worth of food and a gallon of water per day per person, current meds, flashlights with good batteries, etc.  But in light of the devastating outbreak of tornadoes in the U.S. across over the last few weeks, our attention turns once again to the “Bug-Out “or “Go” Bag – a pre-packed and immediately available bag of necessary items to be able to use if you have to evacuate NOW and don’t have any idea how long you’ll be gone – and how many BC professionals don’t maintain one.

We’ve heard a few excuses.  “Oh, where I live we don’t get [hurricanes, flooding, blizzards, earthquakes, tornadoes],” and “We’ll get along fine if we have to evacuate because we can just pick stuff up along the way.”  Or, “We’re just going to hunker down.  Always have.  We’ll be fine.”  And the most confusing one of all, “I try not to think about that stuff because it upsets me too much.”

photo: American Red Cross

photo: American Red Cross

In short, here’s a list of atypical reasons to prepare a Go Bag regardless of why you don’t think you might ever need one (especially if you have children or an elderly relative you’re responsible for):

  • Fire – big or small, whether it’s your house or office or not
  • Utility issues such as downed power lines or natural gas leaks
  • Industrial accidents
  • Chemical spills
  • Traffic accidents
  • Active shooter or hostage situation
  • Train derailment
  • Sink hole – and aren’t there a creepy lot of those in the news these days?
  • Bombings or other explosions
  • Terrorist attacks
  • Structural failure
  • Viral outbreak
  • Infestation, and we speak of very recent experience with this one involving Africanized honey bees

Sure, the possibility of many of those happening to you is remote but there’s no reason not to prepare because you never really do know when you might need to leave and how long you’ll be gone.  Should we go on about the bees?  Approximately 5,000 killer bees that prompted a very quick and slightly prolonged relocation?

There are countless prep lists on the internet but here’s one we like that we put together a few years ago.  It’s a little on the comprehensive side but you can take a look and customize it for yourself.

  • Non-perishable food for 4 days – stuff that you will actually want to eat such as canned goods/meat/tuna, prepared meals that don’t need refrigeration, etc.
  • Laptop/iPad, smartphone and a memory stick with your family’s personal recovery plan
    • The weather app of your choice (we use a locally-pegged NOAA bookmark pinned to our desktop)
    • The map app of your choice
    • Compass app – free and often handy
  • 4 gallons of water per person – note that this is 32 pounds of water per person
  • Cash (we keep $100-200 on-hand at all times but $400 wouldn’t be too much)
  • An emergency handbook: first aid, safe camping, etc.
  • Car chargers for cell phones, iPad, etc.
  • Higher-quality first aid kit
  • At least one sharpened all-purpose knife; here’s our particular favorite
  • Two high-quality flashlights (at least one with lantern function) with extra batteries and a hand-charging flashlight
  • Chemical light sticks; use sparingly
  • Emergency tool for turning gas/water on & off
  • A hand-crankable and solar-powered portable radio
  • Moist towelettes, plastic bags/ties . . . and 2 rolls of toilet paper (better safe than sorry)
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask, emergency ponchos and duct tape
  • All prescription medications
  • Two blankets/pillows
  • At least one change of clothing
  • Plastics plates, cups and utensils
  • Fire extinguisher, which you should already have in your car full-time
  • Basic tool kit (wrench, pliers, hammer, screwdrivers, scissors)
  • Manual can opener
  • Extra pair of reading glasses & plastic safety glasses
  • Paper & pens
  • Spare house & car keys
  • A paper copy of all your vital documents – insurance, permits/licenses, will, etc.
  • Something good to read (think about it)

red-cross-donate-2These are the basics but there are also personal choices that are up to you: whether to include MREs, if fishing gear might come in handy, etc.  And climate and season are major factors, too.  Are parkas necessary . . . or extra tubes of sunblock?

Composing a Go Bag is a work of art that’s tailored to your life and, more importantly, to one day maybe helping save your life.  Most of the items are already somewhere in your house and putting the bag together can be an educational, interesting and even fun Saturday morning project.  And none of your reasons for not having one will be worth anything at all if it turns out you need it.

One more thought.  Consider becoming CERT certified.  The skills you learn are invaluable and the value you’ll bring to your community in the event of a disaster is immeasurable.

For different reasons, a few of us have experienced the unannounced need to hit the road immediately. In one case, the person involved had a quarter tank of gas, $12 in his pocket and little else.  In most other cases, that bag was in the back seat, ready to be used, depended on and truly enjoyed.  Take a guess which of us fared better?  And take a little bit of time to plan for having a much better, much safer experience for when the time comes.