What to Do When... There's a Wildfire — Part 2

During the summer of 2012, the combination of dry weather and high temperatures across the West created prime conditions for the spread of wildfires, including the Weber, Flagstaff and Waldo Canyon fires. 

People living in affected areas were advised to evacuate, leaving their communities at the mercy of the flames. Last year we provided you with these wildfire tips to help you protect your homes and businesses.

As wildfire season approaches once again, we'd like to share the following advice from National Geographic on how to prevent wildfires:

  • Completely extinguish cigarettes and matches before throwing them away.
  • Never discard smoking materials from a moving vehicle or near wooded areas.
  • When leaving a campsite, douse campfire flames with water until cold.
  • Do not leave active fires unattended.
  • Make sure lighting and heating devices, such as lanterns, stoves and heaters, are cool before reheating.
  • Avoid burning leaves or other types of yard waste in windy conditions.
  • Keep a shovel, water and fire retardant nearby in case a fire does ignite.
  • If you ever see any sign of an out-of-control fire, immediately contact 911 or your local fire department.
While you can take preventative measures to reduce the risk of a wildfire, they can still occur. Read more about how to prepare your business to survive a disaster here.

RTOs and RPOs: What's the Difference?

Many people want to protect their data, but often don't know where to start. There are two key concepts on the topic of data restoration that you first need to understand. It begins with examining recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs) and the difference between them.

  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) — How quickly you want access to your restored data.
  • Recovery Point Objective (RPO) — How far back in time you want to restore your data from before the event.

These two concepts are best shown with the following graphic:

As you can see, with RPOs, the more recent you want your restored data to be after a disaster occurs, the more you can expect to pay. Costs increase due to the frequency with which you back up your data.

With RTOs, costs increase the faster you want to recover your business after a disaster. For instance, recovering your business in 72 hours will be exponentially less expensive than recovering your business within 24 hours.

Defining RPO and RTO beforehand can help you management team and IT staff understand how their expectations for recovery can affect the price of their data recovery options.

Hurricane Preparedness Checklist

Hurricane season begins June 1, which means it's time to prepare your business to survive the strong winds and floodwaters that accompany these powerful storms.

Here are some hurricane preparedness tips to help you get started:

  • Keep vehicle gas tanks above half full.
  • Trim tree limbs around your business.
  • Clean out gutters.
  • Store critical data off-site.
  • Implement a disaster recovery plan.
  • Consider a mobile recovery option.
  • Have emergency cash on hand.
  • Prepare a first aid kit.
  • Replace batteries in your portable radio.
  • Test evacuation and recovery plans.

If you found these tips helpful, check out our list of common mistakes disaster recovery committees make when identifying risks to their businesses.

Preparing for Indoor April Showers

Tip of the MonthMany commercial buildings have fire sprinklers, and since 1990 they've been required for pretty much all hotels, meeting halls and college dorms. While these sprinkler systems are vital to saving lives during a fire, they sometimes go off at inopportune times.

Do a quick search for "sprinkler floods dorm room," and you'll find no shortage of accidents involving college students being, well, college students. But do another search for "sprinkler floods business," and you'll find stories of downtime, lost sales and angry customers. You can take steps to keep your business's sprinklers from misfiring, but what can you do when another business sets off the sprinkler system in your shared multi-use building? Taking some simple steps beforehand can help save you from complete disaster.

Know Your Fire Suppression System

There are two main types of systems — the traditional "wet," or water-based, system, and "dry" systems. While not as common as wet sprinkler systems, dry suppressant systems use various chemicals to smother fires and are usually installed in areas that may be prone to chemical, electrical or oil-based fires, like machine shops, server rooms, electrical rooms and commercial kitchens.

Wet systems will continue to spray water until they are shut off, but dry systems will generally dump a set amount of suppression agents into an area to quickly smother any fire.Your recovery plan should take into account the type of system you have installed in your business since the damage they can cause to equipment is vastly different.

Keep Things off the Floor

A neighbor's sprinkler system going off may not cause yours to activate, but it might flood your business. Water can seep under doors or run down walls into your space. This is better than water being sprayed everywhere, but can still be disastrous if you don't plan ahead. Design your office workflow to incorporate your flood plan.

Keep computers off the floor and on the desk. Make regular backups of important information, and use an off-site backup service like BlackVault Managed Recovery to keep critical data out of harm's way. Keep your most important paper documents in the upper drawers of filing cabinets, where they will be less likely to be soaked.

Respond Quickly 

Know where shutoff valves are located so you can quickly pass this information on to the proper authorities when they arrive. Do not turn off the sprinkler system on your own; the sprinklers may have come on for a reason. In the meantime, you can activate part of your disaster recovery plan, which could include Mobile Recovery Centers, Quickship of replacement technology and BlackVault Managed Recovery, to help you get your business running again.

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