Tips to Keep the Fourth of July Safe and Exciting

With July Fourth just around the corner, this week it seemed appropriate to focus on personal disaster preparedness. We've come up with a few ideas to help you and your family safely celebrate the holiday weekend.

Independence Day image Grill Responsibly

According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are approximately 8,900 fires caused by grills each year. In fact, just last month, a family in Oregon experienced a fire after leaving the grill unattended on their back deck. If you're grilling this weekend, be sure to supervise your grill to prevent any accidental fires.

Exercise Caution When Using Sparklers and Fireworks

When you consider that cakes bake at 350 degrees and glass melts at 900 degrees, a sparkler burning at a blistering 1,200 degrees is extremely dangerous. Although it's a fan favorite, take precaution with sparklers this weekend and make sure to keep a safe distance from others to prevent burns.

If you're shooting off fireworks (legally, of course), be sure to set them off a safe distance away from buildings and have a fire extinguisher nearby.

Be Aware of Burn Bans

Before firing up your grill or lighting any sparklers, find out if there are any burn bans in effect in your area. If there are, follow your state's guidelines when participating in Fourth of July festivities that involve fire.

Review these other firework safety tips to help keep your weekend injury-free.

SMEs Become Major Target for Cybersecurity Attacks

Cyber attacks have become an expensive and frequent danger to businesses of all sizes. The cybersecurity attacks that usually make headlines are ones affecting large businesses, but it turns out that 62 percent of all cyber attacks target small and midsized businesses.

Small and midsized enterprises (SMEs) are not lucrative individually, but automation has made it possible to attack them by the thousands. Because various SMEs are affiliated with larger organizations and may have access to the data of these partners, hackers may also see SMEs as a gateway to larger corporate networks.

SMEs tend to be easier targets than large companies, because their budgets are usually smaller and don’t prioritize cybersecurity. However, the cost for victims to recover from a cyber attack has steadily increased each year, regardless of the size of the business. Cyber attacks are expensive due to lost productivity and recovery expenses, which can cost a brand millions in public relations consulting fees, customer outreach efforts, advertising campaigns and liability suits.

The staggering cost of a potential cyber attack makes network security and a technical risk assessment essential for a business to prepare for and recover from a security breach. As the digital age continues, cybersecurity grows more important.

Take time to identify any weaknesses in your business’s cybersecurity and create a plan for correcting them. For more information on how to prevent cyber attacks, read our post “Five Ways to Thwart a Cybersecurity Nightmare.” 

Limit Downtime This Hurricane Season

Floods from hurricane destroy roads and office buildingsWith hurricane season now in effect, several large storms are already causing major flooding in Houston, TX. An estimated $1.3 billion in damages is slowing or temporarily halting business operations for many companies in the area.

However, instead of suspending essential business activities, one company is making the most of the recent floods. Houston-based independent electricity provider AP Gas & Electric (APG&E) used the surge of downpours as an opportunity to test its preparedness for the more considerable storms that are likely to hit in the coming months. By sticking to its predetermined business continuity plan (BCP), APG&E is able to continue providing electricity to its customers, saving the company time and money that would have been lost had it closed down.

If your business is on the coast, follow APG&E’s lead and make sure you’re prepared to minimize downtime in the event of flooding, storm surges, extreme winds and even subsequent tornadoes this hurricane season. Here are a few suggestions to help you start your BCP.

Create a Plan That Addresses the Entire Business

There’s a common misconception that business continuity planning only affects the IT department. In fact, whether you create a business continuity plan (BCP) internally or choose to outsource it, your BCP should involve plans for getting critical processes and departments up and running again.

If you already have a BCP in place, third-party consultants can provide an objective view of your business and make suggestions for your BCP so that your plan is effective when interruptions occur.

Prepare Alternate Workspaces

Whether there’s physical destruction to your building, or employees and customers are unable to travel, damages from disasters can hinder your ability to maintain normal business activities in your primary office space. If you need to relocate business operations, make sure you have access to an alternate workspace as soon as possible.

Fully equipped alternate workspaces like Mobile Recovery Centers (MRCs) can be made available within as little as 24-48 hours of a disaster declaration, while fixed-site Business Recovery Centers (BRCs) can be made available within as little as four hours of a declaration. Once the alternate location is set up, your company can begin to successfully restore business operations.

Back up and Recover Your Data

Having access to your data and applications is imperative when disaster strikes. A fully managed and monitored cloud data recovery service will protect your IT infrastructure. With secure data vaulting and recovery, your data will be recoverable on- or off-site within your recovery time objectives.

Hurricane season is upon us, so make sure you take the necessary steps to prepare your business before it’s too late. To see how another business remained operational during hurricane season, check out this post.

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