There is no way to ever be fully “prepared” when a natural disaster strikes. Having a preparedness plan in place for your dental business, however, is a wise course of action. Creating such a plan and communicating it to your team has the added benefit of easing anxiety during these stressful situations. With Hurricane Matthew set to make landfall on the eastern coast of the United States in the coming days, we reached out to the specialists at our Patterson Technology Center, who provided us with their best tips and recommendations for protecting your practice’s technology in the time preceding a natural disaster. Consider the following items:
- Run a backup of the entire data folder and take it offsite to a safe place. This will ensure all patient data, images, and documents are protected should some equipment be damaged. Remember to only use a secure backup solution that encrypts your data. Patterson has a secure offsite data backup service available, called PattLock.
- Shut down all computers and turn off all monitors.
- Turn off any peripherals, such as printers and external drives.
- Unplug the power cords from all devices. Surges can happen when power is restored, so unplugging devices from the wall will help ensure that they will be protected.
- Unplug the network cable going to your computer, as well as your printer (networked printers only). Lightning can send voltage through these lines, possibly damaging your network cards.
- If located near a window, you may want to cover your computer with a garbage bag in case water comes in. (*NOTE: Be sure to unplug the power from the devices before doing so.) This will ensure that the computer does not overheat when power is restored. You can put small systems and peripherals in bags as well.
- Move any computers and peripherals that are on the floor to an elevated location in case of flooding.
- Any portable devices should be removed and taken to a secure place. Such devices include sensors, cameras, signature pads, credit card readers, and external hard drives.
Of course, technology isn’t the only aspect of your practice that should be addressed when preparing for a natural disaster. Items like making a contact list which includes the numbers and emails of your lawyer, accountant, insurance agency, and dental supplier, or making copies of important documents such as your dental license, diploma, and additional certification, should also find their way onto the checklist. The Massachusetts Dental Society has put together a more thorough dental office preparedness plan, which includes these and additional considerations. Click here to be directed to the PDF version.
In the unfortunate event that your dental practice is affected by Hurricane Matthew, we are offering assistance. Dentists in those counties where a state of emergency has been declared can obtain assistance from Patterson by contacting their local representative or by calling 800.873.7683, which routes callers to the nearest Dental branch.
Stay safe, and please let us know if you have any questions in the comments below. We may not be there with you, but we will always be there for you.