PBX Parachute

West Virginia Flood Relief & PBX Parachute

West Virginia Flood ReliefThis past week has been disastrous for communities in West Virginia who suffered from some of the worst flooding they’ve seen in generations. With over at least 24 casualties, 500 homes damaged, and thousands of people displaced, these floods are some of the worst to hit the country in recent memory. In light of such a troubled week, and in the face of what is expected to be more flash flooding over the next two days, it’s no wonder so many are scrambling to find ways to contribute to West Virginia flood relief efforts.

Giving Back on the Ground

While there is little we can do from way out here in the Silicon Valley to help the affected people in West Virginia, we have found the people who can. Of course you can always contact the national center of the Red Cross to see what West Virginia Flood relief measures they have that need support, but we’ve also identified one of the local charities in that area, too.

The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition has established drop-offs all over the area where nearby residents can bring vital supplies including clean drinking water to be distributed to those affected by the flooding. Food, water, and shelter are all the most basic, and most critical of West Virginia flood relief efforts we can contribute to, and any inquiries on how to donate to the OVEC directly can be sent to their Relief Project Coordinator, Natalie Thompson.

Beware of Scams

It’s sad to have to make this disclaimer, but the reality is that with the outpouring of love and support that tragedies attract is also a lure for opportunistic criminals. These West Virginia flood relief efforts will not be any different. Make sure to scrutinize your contributions for any charitable donations to avoid falling victim to a phony charity. We’ve put together these guidelines that can help you protect yourself from fraudsters-

  • Research any unfamiliar organization and never feel pressured to donate in cash or via wire transfer.
  • Limit identity theft and avoid third-party internet links by confirming charities via Charity Navigator or GuideStar.
  • If there is a familiar name to the charity, verify that the local chapter is authorized to solicit funds on behalf of its parent organization.
  • Avoid charities that refuse to detail mission, use of donations, or proof of tax deductibility, and always insist on receipts for your records.

Protecting Yourself Moving Forward

Ideally we wouldn’t need to consider how we could need our own relief, but there exists an incalculable number of ways that our businesses could be rendered inaccessible or otherwise disabled. We’re proud to be supporting hundreds of businesses across the globe that have benefited from our disaster recover and emergency failover service, PBX Parachute. And while it is always difficult to think about the worst that our own companies can face, it’s times like these that the importance of doing so is most felt.

Hopefully all of these affected companies will be back and on their feet in no time at all, but until then our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to all of the families in flood-damaged West Virginia.

Hurricane Amnesia Could Be the Biggest Threat to the Mainland

Hurricane AmnesiaThe beginning of June is important to many Americans as it is typically associated with the beginning of summer, thanks to its proximity to the Memorial Day holiday. The first of June has another significance, though, in that it also marks the official start of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season. Fortunately, this is something for most Americans in the Southeastern United States that has been not much of a concern for the last several years. Though generally positive, not having experienced a hurricane landfall in too long has some experts saying that hurricane amnesia is the biggest threat to emergency preparedness.

Hurricane Amnesia Isn’t An Actual Hurricane

No, “Amnesia” isn’t the next in a cavalcade of hurricane names chosen to reflect modern baby-naming trends (no word on the eventual “Hurricane Katniss” as of yet), but rather a phenomenon that describes the general lack of regard for the awesome destructive power of hurricanes. By not having experienced landfall of a hurricane since Wilma in 2005, many experts are warning that Florida is ripe for disaster. If the fact that it has been over a decade since the last landfall of a hurricane in Florida wasn’t bad enough, add to that the millions of new residents that have moved to the Sunshine State over that same time period and you have a dangerous combination. It’s not uncommon for things to become less frightening the longer we’re removed from them, but conducting ourselves like there isn’t a very real and looming danger from hurricanes is a perilous way to proceed.

Coastal Damage Is Unavoidable

Not to be the harbinger of bad news, but the reality is that even though it has been ages since the last hurricane hit shore, experiencing hurricanes and their destructive forces while living in certain coastal areas is an absolute certainty. For example, though Florida and the Gulf Coast are often the most commonly associated parts of the United States Mainland to hurricane conditions, Superstorm Sandy was just barely downgraded from a hurricane status before hitting the coast of New Jersey and the destruction she caused was massive nonetheless. New Jersey and the surrounding areas suffered mightily from Sandy. In fact, the financial burden Sandy inflicted is still being felt today by many businesses that were caught off-guard by the disruption she caused to their operations. For those businesses that were prepared for the weeks of power outages and inaccessibility to their offices, however, many of them didn’t experience even the slightest lapse in operations or profitability. These were the companies that planned for any eventuality with a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan (BCP).

Act Today to Prepare for Tomorrow

Creating and maintaining a comprehensive BCP is easier than you may think, and it’s a surefire hedge against hurricane amnesia and all of the other myriad ways your business can hit a stumbling block. Whenever you experience an outage of your power, telephone system, or simply cannot access your building for whatever reason, business opportunities begin to slip away. Not only does this create a loss of the opportunity cost of time away from work, it also means that those deals are likely to move to your competitors, thereby making your already competitive market doubly challenging. Don’t let this ever happen to your company.

By adopting an off-site virtual recreation of it business telephone system to act as a hot standby in the event of an emergency, any business can prepare itself against lost productivity. With PBX Parachute, businesses vulnerable to hurricane amnesia or simply just those that are serious about protecting their operations can rest assured that nothing will stand in the way of their business continuity. Plus, because PBX Parachute is hosted and accessed remotely, employees can secure themselves safely away from any dangers and access the system from anywhere they have an internet or data connection. This guarantees that the most valuable asset of any company, its employees, will be able to contact its most valuable partners, the customer, any time and through any scenario.

Get started today with PBX Parachute today and take the steps to protect your business indefinitely.

Flooding In Houston

Flooding In HoustonThis week has seen some of the worst flooding in generations in Houston with hundreds of homes evacuated and, as-of-yet untold millions of dollars of damage. In addition to the loss of lives throughout the area and the mounting destruction of the flooding, there actually seems to be even more water rising on the horizon. Though the flooding in Houston has already raised the Brazos River to well over 50 feet where it once ran dry only two years ago, the area is expected to receive another 1-3 inches of rain by the weekend. With this type of increasingly destructive force mounting in the area, the flooding in Houston has effectively driven entire communities from their homes and those who’ve remained are at a standstill.

Spotty Flood Insurance Coverage

Flood Insurance isn’t federally mandated as a part of homeownership even though flooding is routinely the costliest natural disaster in the United States. As a result, many homes affected by flooding aren’t covered for this nearly predictable event. The coverage of flood insurance is so incomplete that in 2014 the total damage caused to US homeowners was $3.5 billion whereas the National Flood Insurance Program of the United States receive only paid out $345 million in claims. While it’s too early to tell how much damage the flooding in Houston will cost or the coverage that the affected residents may have, it isn’t too soon for some businesses to begin leveraging their own safety nets for such a disaster.

Disaster Recovery & Emergency Failover

Businesses will have to begin sorting through the rubble after the water recedes just like homeowners, but for some savvy business owners the fallout will be lessened substantially. This is because, while the flooding in Houston has affected all of the area equally, not all of the companies located there have equivalent business telephone systems or telecommunications strategies. For the businesses with a comprehensive business continuity plan including a telephone failover system, they have been able to head for high ground and take their business with them.

Evacuating a flooded area never has to mean evacuating your operations when you have a hosted disaster recovery tool like PBX Parachute. PBX Parachute is a mirror of your company’s existing telephone network hosted in a secured location that will deploy whenever there is a situation that makes your office inaccessible or that renders your communications inoperable. By including PBX Parachute as a part of their standard operating procedures, businesses in Houston and all over the world are able to stay open and profitable during even the most catastrophic of situations.

It’s Never Too Early to Begin Planning

Take care to include a completed Business Continuity Plan (BCP) into your company’s emergency planning, and use our online resources to make sure your employees are safe first, and productive second. Then to get the most out of your BCP, talk to one of our disaster recovery experts to set-up a free demo of the industry’s most-awarded emergency failover system, PBX Parachute. Until then, stay safe, stay dry, and our most sincere wishes for safety and security go out to all of the families in and around the Houston area.

Zombie April Fools’ Day

Surprise!

Okay first things first- there has not, I repeat, NOT, been any reports about the recently deceased becoming reanimated nor do we know anything about roaming hordes of soulless monsters hell-bent on feasting upon the brains of the living. Again, as far as we know, you should not hunker down in a safe, remote location and begin to rebuild civilization. Well, not unless that’s your thing in which case who am I to judge, but just don’t do that because you think we’re in the Zombie Apocalypse.

Not all Fun and Games

We hope with every fiber that you never have to worry about crafting a makeshift hatchet out of your mobile phone. But we are, however, interested in sharing news about the VirtualPBX Softphone App and are not opposed to cooking up creative and fun ways to do that. So no matter which one of these avenues you came down to this particular blog post today, we hope you leaned something new, started to consider the advantages of a hosted communication service, and most importantly, had a little fun in the process. If you missed the other stories we had for today, here they are below-

Softphone App
VirtualPBX Softphone App For Business Communications
Network Health Check
Network Health Check For Business Health
PBX Parachute Disaster Recovery
PBX Parachute Emergency Business Failover
PBX Parachute Emergency Hotline
PBX Parachute Emergency Hotline
Follow Me Calling
Follow Me Calling

How Did it All Begin?

Much like the opening sequence of any one of a cavalcade of cadaver-packed cinema, this idea was born in deepest recesses of a spooky and remote laboratory. More accurately, it was a staff meeting of the VirtualPBX Marketing Department. When we were considering the many different disaster scenarios a company could face that would be more easily navigated with the aid of PBX Parachute, we naturally found Zombie Apocalypse nudge its way onto our list. This happens because, of course, there are never any wrong answers during a brain storm, but I digress. After the third or fourth mention of the topic, however, it became clear that we needed to find a way to make this work and, seeing as how Halloween was just far too long to wait, an April Fools’ Day idea was born.

Thanks for being good sports about this and if you have any further questions about hosted communications features, disaster recovery and business continuity strategies, or if you just want to talk about zombies, we’re always standing by to hear from you!

Preventing Winter Business Closures on the East Coast

Blizzards shut down East Coast and cost Businesses MillionsA classic Nor’easter blizzard by the name of Jonas certainly did a number on the East Coast over the weekend. The massive storm system blanketed millions of people and businesses with more than record snowfalls as storm surges and gale-force winds also wrecked havoc up and down the Atlantic states. While many city governors are applauding citizens for heeding the many emergency warnings, many more are still urging people to stay off of the roads while crews work to clear the record-setting snowfall. While many millions of school children are enjoying snowdays, however, millions more businesses need to scramble to account for the missing revenue of these off days.

“This is worse than Sandy.”

Those were the words of Keith Laudeman, a small business owner in Cape May, New Jersey, who compared Jonas to the 2012 Superstorm Sandy. Laudeman has been preparing for or battling off the flooding caused from Jonas since the previous Wednesday and will spend upwards of two more weeks with repairs from the flood before he can reopen. The potential for three weeks off from studies due to a snow storm would be music to most schoolchildren’s ears, but to a small business owner in a vacation town who is already in the slowest part of his year to miss out on crucial revenue the news can be catastrophic. Millions of homes and businesses that were left powerless in the wake of Sandy, and the cost of those outages reached well into the billions. Even if you weren’t in a coastal town that had flooding to content with in addition to the record-setting snowfall, every day of inactivity costs your business dearly.

Don’t Just Up and Quit Your Job One Day

Or do, we’re not here to judge. The point is that you wouldn’t leave your stable gig without something to replace it with already lined-up, would you? No, of course not. That’s just as inadvisable as leaving your entire business unprotected against outages. As scary as it is to think about having your entire business continuity rely not effort, but rather to dangle precariously in the balance whenever there is the slightest disruption, there are far too many businesses that do. IT downtime alone costs businesses over $26 billion a year, so to combine those costs with repairs from a massive storm plus the compounded issues of lost revenue and customers, the narrow margins for error when it comes to failover systems for your business only tighten further.

It really is easy, though, to keep up and running. With a reliable telephone failover system as part of a business continuity plan, any business can operate with impunity in the face of the increasingly unpredictable weather. We don’t suggest you go out storm-chasing or anything, but you won’t have to bat an eye if your building loses power or gets snowed-in because emergency failover systems mirror your existing phone system and host a carbon copy back up of it in the cloud. Alternatively, you could anticipate that a storm is coming and, much like Jonas hit over the weekend, just plan for your team to stay home and then activate the communications back-up on Monday morning while everyone works safely from the comfort of their own home.

There are even more benefits to having a hosted emergency failover system preside over your business including keeping your team safe and informed during emergencies and keeping your customers informed with automated messages. You can learn more about how to benefit from the flexibility and low barriers to entry into the world of hosted telephone communications by arranging for a free personal tour of a VirtualPBX cloud-based service and seeing how to maximize your business’ potential, no matter what the weather looks like.

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