What to Do When… You’re Putting up Lights for the Holidays

The holiday season brings not only warm feelings of cheer to your staff, but the potential for an electrical fire. Flickering lights, warm wall switches or outlets and lights that dim when other appliances are turned on are some warning signs of fire hazards.

So before hanging up your business’s holiday lights this season, we recommend observing the U.S. Fire Administration’s safety tips below.

  • Inspect decorative lights for:
    • Frayed wires
    • Bare spots
    • Gaps in insulation
    • Broken or cracked sockets
    • Excessive wear
  • Don’t overload electric circuits by plugging long strings of lights into one outlet.
  • Check your fuse box to see how many amps each circuit can handle.
  • Invest in a surge protector strip if you need multiple outlets to plug in lights.

To make sure that chestnuts are the only thing roasting over an open fire this season, visit here for more holiday safety tips.

Part 4 — $22 Million Worth of Reasons Why It Pays to Comply with Regulatory Organizations

In Part 3 of our regulatory fines series, Merrill Lynch demonstrated how important it is for businesses to stay within their regulatory parameters — especially when those regulations directly affect customers. Like Merrill Lynch, one healthcare organization learned this lesson the hard way.

Cignet Health — $4.3 million

Between September 2008 and October 2009, 41 patients filed complaints again Rockville, MD healthcare practice Cignet Health.

The practice had refused to provide patients with copies of their medical records, even when the U.S. Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a subpoena demanding that Cignet produce the records. The fine for this violation was $1.3 million. It was only after the U.S. District Court obtained a default judgment against Cignet on March 30, 2012, that the practice produced the records.

In addition, Cignet refused to cooperate with the OCR’s investigation from March 2009 to April 2010, which earned the firm an additional HIPAA fine of $3 million, bringing Cignet’s total fines to $4.3 million, and the running total for this series to $7,275,000.

Don't miss the final part of this series next month!

Manhattan Recovers from Hurricane Sandy

After Hurricane Sandy, we deployed numerous Mobile Recovery Centers along the East Coast to aid in customers’ disaster declarations. A recent declaration brought us to Manhattan, where we found streets crowded with debris, gutted buildings, generators parked along the curbs and relief providers working overtime to get companies up and running again.

Learning From Hurricane Sandy: Are You Prepared for a Disaster?

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, businesses are reminded of how important it is to be prepared for a disaster. Knowing what steps to take after your business is affected by a natural disturbance like Sandy is crucial to helping your business recover. You can start by asking yourself the following questions, courtesy of speaker, consultant and author Barry Moltz.

Assess the Damage

  • Have any of your employees been affected by the disaster?
  • Can you find other staff members to remotely replace absent employees?
  • Has your building been damaged?
  • Are the utilities in your facility still connected?
  • What is the state of your computer infrastructure and data?
  • If customer, product or vendor data has been lost, how can it be restored?

Do a Serious Financial Evaluation

  • How much cash does your company have on hand to repair any damage?
  • Have you estimated enough money for a restart?
  • What damage will your insurance cover?
  • How soon will your insurance company pay the claim?
  • Will the insurance claim cover all the damage costs?

Restart in Sequence

  • Is your customer, product and vendor data accessible?
  • Can the data be run on a system compatible with your business’s network?
  • Do you have employees with the necessary skills to restart your business?
  • Have you contacted your vendors to see if they are able to deliver the office technology your business needs within your recovery time frame?

Look for Disaster Assistance

  • Have you sought federal, state, community or relief assistance?
  • Do you have a plan for recovering your business without assistance?

If you found these assessment questions helpful, view the full article from Barry Moltz here.

Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy has affected millions of residents and businesses along the East Coast, including many of our clients.

After the storm, some of our clients reported that the widespread power outage made it impossible for their employees to work from home. Others were unable to reach the upper floors of their offices, so they could not access their office technology. Lastly, we heard from a few of our clients whose facilities and Internet connections were still intact, but their voice circuits were down.

Thankfully, each of these clients had a flexible disaster recovery plan in place. We were able to help them restore their power, voice and data connectivity by delivering generators, Quickship technology equipment and mobile workspaces.

Our Mobile Recovery Centers are not only being used as temporary office space, but are also currently supporting Central Offices and serving as the staging areas to configure servers and network equipment for several major cities along the East Coast.

As we continue to restore our clients’ business operations in the affected areas, our thoughts are with all those who were caught in the path of Hurricane Sandy. If you would like to donate to the areas that need help during this time, please visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Turning on Your Heater in the Winter

During this time of year, a few things are inevitable: leaves changing color, shorter days and colder temperatures. As the mercury drops on the thermometer, people are switching off the air conditioner and cranking up the heater. Here are a few things your business should keep in mind when turning on its heater this season:

  • Do not wait until it is freezing out to rev up your heater. Many companies discover that their heater is out of commission after the cold weather has already arrived.
  • Check your filter before starting your heater. Clean filters help your heater operate at its peak efficiency.
  • Once turned on, does your heater:
    • Emit a burning smell?
    • Sound like it is struggling?
    • Vibrate at the ducts and walls?
    • Show a carbon monoxide reading above 30?
    All of these are signs of a potentially hazardous condition. Turn the system off immediately and have it checked by a North American Technician Excellence (NATE) certified heating technician.
  • If your heater is 15 years or older, consider replacing it. An old system, even in good condition, may use only 60 percent of its available heat to warm the building.
  • Have your system professionally inspected and tuned up annually. A properly maintained heater works more efficiently and reduces your energy usage.
Prevent expensive repairs and downtime by taking care of your heating system, so your business is not left out in the cold.

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