September is National Preparedness Month, which is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a part of the Department of Homeland Security. National Preparedness Month encourages Americans to prepare for emergencies in their homes, businesses, schools and communities. While no one can be fully equipped for a disaster on the devastating scale of Harvey, this type of debilitating storm magnifies the need for a comprehensive emergency plan.
The Electronic Security Association (ESA) is joining with FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to encourage businesses to create an emergency plan.
ESA is also recommending that businesses include their security and life safety systems in their plan.
“One of our missions at ESA is to raise awareness about all aspects of security for businesses,” says Angela White, president of ESA. “In the midst of a disaster, a security system may be the last thing on your mind, but it is a significant component of your business and should be incorporated into your preparedness plans.”
By visiting Alarm.org, a website sponsored by ESA, you can download the Disaster Preparedness Checklist for Business Security Systems to serve as a guide to prepare for a potential disaster. The checklist also provides tips for using security systems to monitor your property if an evacuation is required, as well as detect potential issues prior to or upon return.
“With extensive technologies on the market today, security systems can be configured with sensors to detect life-threatening conditions that may occur in the aftermath of a disaster, such as a carbon monoxide leak; an unusual rise in temperature that could signal a fire; a drop in temperature that could indicate a freeze condition; and/or flooding, which can cause extensive peripheral damage.” White says.
Below are sample tips that can be downloaded from the Disaster Preparedness Checklist for Business Security Systems on Alarm.org:
*Include the contact information for your security provider on your business emergency contact list. This will make it easier to alert your provider if you need to evacuate or relocate. Use a secure, password-protected, web-based platform or app to store this information.
*Make sure security passwords and passcodes are up-to-date and everyone with permission to access the property has memorized the passwords and codes.
*Set up an emergency communications infrastructure for your business to relay crucial information to employees, customers and vendors, as well as facilitate business continuity.
*Educate yourself and your employees so that everyone knows how to use the system to its full potential.
*Check with your security provider to understand how your system operates in the event of a power outage and how long it may be operable. Most systems have back-up batteries and will remain operational for a certain amount of time during a power failure, so make sure your batteries are in working order and appropriately charged. As a rule of thumb, optimum operation comes from batteries that were installed within three years and have not experienced multiple outages. However, it is always best to check with your security provider as they have the proper diagnostic tools to determine functionality.
Did You Know? Security and surveillance systems can be connected to a back-up generator, so the systems continue to function once electrical power is out. Discuss this option with your security provider.
*If you have a security system that is connected to your smart phone, make sure the app is properly installed on your phone. Through video and audio surveillance, you can monitor your property in real-time. If a power outage occurs, this feature may not work for the full duration of a storm, but it can alert you to issues so you can start immediate repairs upon return. Again, consult with your security provider to determine if an uninterrupted power supply was installed that will provide battery backup on your cameras.
*Consider new technologies, such as disaster detection sensors that can detect and alert you to life-threatening issues, including: carbon monoxide leaks, changes in temperature and flooding.
*Fires are common during and in the aftermath of a natural disaster. Ensure your smoke detectors are working properly and are connected to your security and fire alarm system. One way to better prepare your business for a disaster is to use a security solution that includes instant alerts which can be sent directly to your smart phone. Both you and the monitoring station can be notified the moment your smoke detectors are activated. Video surveillance cameras within your business can be programmed to send a live feed from the area in which the sensor has been triggered. This real-time technology allows you to react quickly and keeps first responders current to events taking place on the property.
*If you live in an area that is prone to evacuations and are concerned about vandalism, consider a professionally-installed and monitored security system. Through real-time audio and video surveillance, your security provider can verify the intrusion with local authorities, so they can prioritize and respond accordingly. More importantly, it frees you to focus on evacuating operations to a safe location.
“Developing a business emergency plan is only one component of National Preparedness Month. We hope Americans will get involved to ensure our families, businesses and communities are prepared for national disasters, whether natural or man-made,” says White.
To download the ESA Disaster Preparedness Checklist for Business Security Systems, visit Alarm.org.
About ESA and Alarm.Org
The Electronic Security Association (ESA) is the largest professional trade association in the U.S. representing the electronic life safety, security and integrated systems industry. ESA is dedicated to educating consumers and businesses about security technologies, including intrusion and fire detection, video surveillance and electronic access control. Through Alarm.org, we provide a wide range of information that will help consumers and businesses make smart security and life safety decisions.
Advances in technology are expanding the range of options available, making it easier than ever to customize security and life safety solutions to meet a wide variety of needs and budgets. Alarm.org provides extensive resources, including information about the latest technologies, reliable resources for installation and professional monitoring, as well as tips for using your system to its full potential.