Last month the Centers for Disease Control issued a tongue-in-cheek blog post: Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse. The idea is to talk about emergency preparedness, using the rise of the undead as an example crisis.
As hurricane season officially kicks into high gear in the United States, and with devastating floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes plaguing much of the world, it seems as good a time as ever to go over your plans on how to handle an emergency situations.
And really, it doesn’t matter whether your enemy is a destructive storm or a flesh-eating monster looking to feast on your paralegal’s brains.
1) Put together your disaster supplies kit. Your kit should include flashlights, medication, batteries, a gallon of water per day, a multi-purpose tool, and many other items listed by the CDC. Should zombies surround your law firm and you need to hunker down, have what you need to get by for a little bit.
And don’t be tempted to sacrifice a junior associate to the zombies to buy yourself time! Though it may seem sensible by increasing your disaster supply cache, it will not delay zombie attack, but rather only increase their appetite for legal brains. Take it from us.
2) Assemble an emergency plan. In cases of hurricanes, you’ll have time to plan your emergency strategy, but the same cannot be said for most other disasters, from tornadoes to terrorism to zombie attacks. You and your staff should know who will account for everyone and how you will be in contact should your office be uninhabitable. For anticipated disasters, you may want to consider dispatching key operators to non-risky zones (i.e. where no zombies have been spotted).
3) Gather all of your emergency contact information, i.e. for the police, fire department, and know where local hospitals are. You will not believe how little information you actually have if disconnected from the Internet. Suddenly throwing away the yellow pages seems a little foolish. If cell phone towers are damaged, you may not have signal to make phone calls.
4) Consider getting a simple corded phone and a basic plan. A little corded phone without an answering machine can power itself from the voltage of the phone line and may work even if the power is out. I can tell you firsthand from going through Hurricane Wilma that our corded phone was a great thing to have.
5) Back up your data online with a solution like Mozy or Carbonite. State bar ethics opinions have blessed online encrypted backup solutions for law firms. If you’re not paperless now, think about moving that direction quickly. Lawyers from New Orleans can attest to the importance of remote backups, having suffered catastrophic losses in Hurricane Katrina.
6) Consider cloud-based solutions for your critical law firm operations. One of the reasons we started Rocket Matter, an online practice management and time and billing solution, was to provide law firms with an instant disaster recovery plan. Having survived numerous hurricanes, the pattern of behavior for us South Floridians was as follows: ride out the storm, then high-tail it to Orlando for electricity and Internet until the power at home is restored.
If you can ride out the emergency and relocate and IF you run a cloud-based office, you can reconnect to all of your firm’s critical information and resume operations without worrying about destruction to your client and case information.
7) Know your potential disasters and how to combat them. Wanna stay up all night? Visit this website by the CDC, which lists every horrific thing that can happen to your community, and you won’t sleep for a week. Know what risks you have in your particular area, and prepare accordingly. Though it seems obvious, make sure you’re not focused on one type of disaster only to get knocked by another. For example, you, in the floodzone, do trains rumble by with hazardous chemicals? And the preparedness for floods and tornadoes, let alone zombies, is entirely different.