Risk Assessment or Business Impact Analysis, Which Comes First?


This is a topic of great debate, and is the chicken or the egg question for contingency planners everywhere. Recently, I was asked to share an infographic that placed the Business Impact Analysis before the Risk Assessment.  While there is nothing wrong with the graphic, and you can see it, Disaster Recovery infographic by Singlehop I am in some disagreement with the placement.

Interestingly enough, I just had a conversation with a colleague, whom I respect, and that works for another large company that provides business continuity and disaster recovery services, on this very topic.

With the creation of the ISO 22301, which does not specifically address the order, but does mention BIA’s first, many businesses are now conducting the BIA first. Here is my personal and professional opinion on why this is both wrong, and a mistake.

Whenever I work with a business, and we are conducting an analysis on their risks and associated impacts, we always do the risk analysis/risk assessment first. I have a great many reasons for doing it in this way, but let me share just a snippet of why we do it this way.

First, let’s look at the Risk Assessment. The Risk Assessment looks at a given hazard.  It measures both, the potential likelihood of the hazard occurring, and the potential impact it may have on the business. This provides you with some system of measurement on how great the risk to your business the hazard will be.

I just want to mention here that there are many methods of scoring the actual measurement to achieve, or arrive at a final hazard score. For instance the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1600 utilizes a method of scoring of High (H), Medium (M), Low (L) for probability of occurrence and the same H, M, L for impact. This provides a score, such as, ML which would be equal to Medium probability of Occurrence with a Low impact.

I use a slightly modified version of the NFPA 1600 model that I developed over the years, but it is generally the same idea. Once we look at all the potential known hazards we take the top 10, top 5, and top 3 hazards respectively to know which hazards are the biggest known threats to the business.  

This process allows us to have a high-level overview of what the greatest risks are to the business, and what the potential impact will be.

Once we arrive here, it is time to take a deep dive into the impact the top threats will have on your business. It also provides us a potential outline of events that are likely to cause major disruptions to the business. This provides us with a scenario to use for context during the Business Impact Analysis.

During the deep dive into the Business Impact Analysis you will look at each individual process, individuals and applications that support each process, the interdependencies between departments and each process has upon each other, the financial impact to the business if this process is disrupted, additional financial impact of fines, penalties, SLA’s, and contractual agreements. Does this process need to be recovered immediately? Can it wait? Should it be on hold indefinitely until operations return to normal? What is the recovery costs associated with each process?

The Business Impact Analysis gets into such fine details of each business process and business unit that it can itself become a disruption. This is why they are done only every couple of years. Usually two years being the norm, but some companies may do them only every five years.

The Risk Assessment, being such a high-level overview can be done monthly, quarterly, or even yearly, with little to no disruption to the businesses normal operations. It also provides an excellent way of tracking emerging and future threats to the business.  

I hope with this you can see where I am coming from, and why a risk assessment should be done both first, and more frequently. Also, as a big proponent of the NFPA 1600 standard, if you have the book, Implementing NFPA 1600 National Preparedness Standard, turning to page 12, and page 19 respectively provides an ordered list where the Risk Assessment comes before the Business Impact Analysis.

The NFPA 1600 Section number 5.3 on Risk Assessments also provides an ordered list of steps that includes identifying hazards, Assess the vulnerability, Analyze the potential impact, and then lastly to conduct a Business Impact Analysis to determine business continuity and recovery strategies.  

I am a big believer in knowing your risks and conducting risk assessments on a regular basis. Performing a BIA with just an overal organizational risk or operational risk falls short of a complete and proper risk assessment.

Also, risk assessments should be tied into your enerprise risk management if you have one and should have controls established for reductions or prevention of risks when possible.



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Where are the Safest States to Live In 2014?

The death toll from monsoon floods in India, Bangladesh and Nepal has climbed above 1,200, as rescue workers scramble to provide aid to millions of people stranded by the worst such disaster in years. All three countries suffer frequent flooding during the June-September monsoon season, but international aid agencies say things are worse this year with thousands of villages cut off and people deprived of food and clean water for days.

Milaap – India’s largest crowdfunding platform

According to the study, Massachusetts is the safest State to live and New Hampshire comes in at number two. Overall the entire North-East of the United States is pretty safe overall based on this study. The study used the following safety factors to determine the relative overall safety of each state. Financial Safety of the State, Driving Safety Rank, Workplace safety, Natural Disaster Rank, and finally, Home and Community Safety. These factors then provide an overall rating of each State giving us the safest and least safest States to live in based on the study.
To see more on this study see 2014’s Safest States to Live.

Ebola Virus – Why Has It Spread So Far, So Fast?


Source: CDC – Ebola Virus

The Ebola outbreak in the West African Countries of Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone has so far caused Suspected Case Deaths: 961, with Suspected and Confirmed Case Count: 1779 as of this writing.

The spread of the virus has grown “out of control” and this state will likely remain this way for the next few weeks. Global Government agencies such as the CDC and NGO’s alike are responding to stem the spread of the ebola virus. Though, several agencies are reporting that the current ebola virus is spreading beyond current efforts to contain it.

Why is it spreading so far so fast?

Part of the reason why ebola virus has spread so far so quickly has more to do with the cultural customs and beliefs in the areas where the ebola virus has occurred.

  • First, is the distrust of western doctors and medicine. This is not so in every instance, but does play at least some role. 
  • Another, as with the American citizen that travelled to Nigeria, after he became infected after his wife died of the disease, is a complete denial that they are infected. With an incubation period lasting as long as 21 days, some people are in denial they have become infected.
  • Another reason is the mishandling of the dead. As with many other places in the world, people have customs and rituals dealing with the treatment of the dead. In this case, some family members clean the body for burial without the use of proper protective clothing. If I am not mistaken, it is also proper practice to burn everything, including the dead that are infected with ebola.
  • Lastly, and perhaps the biggest contributing factor is having infected people “break” quarantine efforts. They either leave, or as in some cases have family members “break” them out of the facility.

Granted, these are not the ONLY factors in why the ebola virus is spreading, but do present unique challenges to stem the spread of the disease further.

As you probably know by now, this is the worst Ebola virus outbreak in history, and is also the first outbreak to occur in West Africa. This may also be considered another potential contributing factor in that the ebola virus had not directly occurred in this region of Africa in the past.

I recently wrote another article about Ebola Virus Facts and Information on my corporate blog. It is an excellent resource to share and includes information from the CDC, and WHO.

Since then the CDC has also shared an Ebola Virus Infographic that is good to have a look at.

 



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Ebola Virus – Major Issues Coming to Light on Containment


Source: CDC Ebola Virus

While I took some downtime for my birthday major things were going on in the world that I missed. One of these events surrounds some major developments regarding the containment of Ebloa or the lack there of.

Though current reports still suggest that the current Ebola Virus is not airborne, it is highly contagious requiring close contact to infected persons, bodies and other objects that have been contaminated with another infected persons bodily fluids.

With this being the case – the current Ebola Virus Epidemic IS spreading out of control and unchecked in parts of West Africa. The most significant development that came to light on August 11, 2014 is that WHO Confirms that patients in fact ARE being turned away from overflowing and taxed medical facilities.  

With this situation remaining unchecked, it will only be a matter of time before he virus spreads to other parts of Africa, the Mid-East, and potentially to Europe and the U.S.

More. Far more needs to be done as a global community to control the spread of infection.

Here is a brief excerpt from the WHO Report on Barriers to rapid containment of the Ebola Outbreak:

Lack of capacity makes infection control difficult

This lack of capacity makes standard containment measures, such as early detection and isolation of cases, contact tracing and monitoring, and rigorous procedures for infection control, difficult to implement. Though no vaccine and no proven curative treatment exist, implementation of these measures has successfully brought previous Ebola outbreaks under control.

The recent surge in the number of cases has stretched all capacities to the breaking point. Supplies of personal protective equipment and disinfectants are inadequate. The outbreak continues to outstrip diagnostic capacity, delaying the confirmation or exclusion of cases and impeding contact tracing.

Diagnostic capacity is especially important as the early symptoms of Ebola virus disease mimic those of many other diseases commonly seen in this region, including malaria, typhoid fever, and Lassa fever.

Some treatment facilities are overflowing; all beds are occupied and patients are being turned away. Many facilities lack reliable supplies of electricity and running water. Aid organizations, including Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders), which has provided the mainstay of clinical care, are exhausted.

If controls are not put in place soon (and it may be to late already) – the potential for a global crisis increases rapidly.



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WHY YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE A THREE DAY SUPPLY OF WATER


Water is Life by Williami5 via Flicker

Having water is essential for survival. This we know. Over the years however a massive campaign was launched to get ALL Americans to have At Least three days of water stored for emergencies. This then become 72 hours. Over time the message of At Least three days seems to have become lost.

In fact over the last year I have seen some messages put out by local Emergency Management Offices around the country change this message to a week or a months worth of water. This is a good thing.

Though, I have written about this before as a Disaster Tip of the Week as, Is 72 Hours Enough To Prepare For Disaster this message of storing water for emergencies, has still become lost.

Basically, the PR campaign for three days worth of water was so effective that people “hear” they only need three days of water and end up not storing any. Thinking they can get by for three days or it is such a small amount they really do not need it.

So. How much water do you really need? Well. That is a great question. It is normally stated that you NEED 1 gallon of water per person in your home per day. This amount is supposed to take care of all your needs. From sanitation to drinking. Have you ever tried to get by using only 1 gallon of water per day? This amount also does not account for pets and other needs. So, you will need extra for them.

If you live in a warmer climate, plan on being active, have medical or special needs, you are going to require an increased amount for drinking.

Though I will consult people to have greater amounts on an individual basis. As a general rule, I believe 3 gallons per person/ plus 1 gallon per pet, extra activity per day for one week is a good water storage plan.

Yes. That is a lot of water to store. However, when your tap stops flowing you wont regret the “extra” you have on hand. See also Treating Water.



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Medicine and Preparedness: The 22 Medications You Need in Your Personal Stockpile


Mdeicine for Survival

Medicine and Preparedness: The 22 Medications You Need in Your Personal Stockpile NOW!

I have seen and read many posts over the years about adding or using medicines meant for pets during preparedness or survival situations. Now, I am not going to go all out and say that you shouldn’t do this or go this route, but there are several problems with this. I am also going to provide you with what I believe is a better solution.

The first problem that arises is the expiration data and shelf life of medicines. The biggest factor in this is that some medicines can as they degrade become toxic. Other medicines contain preservatives that may allow bacteria to grow once the preservative is no longer effective.

In addition, during survival situations – scavenging comes to mind and where we tend to find most medicines throughout most homes (the bathroom) is not the ideal place to store medicine. The heat and humidity is not ideal and makes the medicines degrade faster.

What is interesting is that the Department of Defense had the Federal Drug Administration test some drugs for what is known as the Shelf Life Extension Program (SLEP). It has been found that the shelf life of some drugs can be extended. Though not all drugs, and the drugs tested were kept in their original containers – unopened and in optimal temperature and humidity conditions. NOTE: When you obtain a prescription drug at the pharmacy and they place it into a medication bottle – that is not the original container.

Some other life-saving drugs have been found to degrade after the expiry date, such as EpiPen’s and Insulin. Nitroglycerin decreases in potency quickly once the bottle is opened. Most vaccines and biologicals such as blood products also degrade quickly after their expiration dates.

If any medicine has become powdery, crumbly, caked, has a strong smell, cloudy, or has dried up it should be discarded and not used.

During normal situations if you have medicine at home and you need to take it and the medicine is expired no evidence has been found that it would be unsafe to take. Though, it would be best to acquire a new prescription as soon as possible.

Research does show that medicines past their expiration date do and will degrade in potency over time. Under ideal conditions and in original containers within the military stockpile medications have been shown to retain as much as 90 percent of their potency. Though most household conditions do not meet these standards.

The second problem is that pet based medicines were not included in these studies. Now some of the medications may be the same thing, but as I said I have a better solution for you.

If you can, start your own stockpile of medicines. This may cost you some money out of pocket but you will have them when you need them. The good news is, most of the medications I will be recommending have been found to have no failures when tested and typically can have a long shelf life.

In addition to the medicines I recommend you should consider obtaining and even storing some of the medicine you may need on a regular basis. This may be easier said than done, since most drug insurance programs limit the amount you can obtain. So, you may have to get creative or even pay out of pocket to establish your supply.

Uncle Sam and Your MedsThe government does even recommend you keep a small extra supply of medicine in case of a disaster. Try telling that to your insurance company though. Some things you can do to get creative in this area:

1.       Tell them you lost your medication while on a weekend trip.

2.       Tell them you need an extended supply for a trip.

3.       Try telling them you need extra in case of an emergency.

4.       Purchase the extra month- 3 months’ worth from the pharmacy.

Some insurance programs will give you up to three months’ worth of medicine if you purchase through a mail order program. Ask them.

 

Once you are successful in obtaining ‘extra’ medicine it is important that you store them properly and rotate them. So, as you get new prescriptions filled, store those and take the ones you were holding onto in case of an emergency.

Now, here is an extensive list of medications to obtain for your own Disaster Preparedness Supply. Please do your own research on usage, dosages and contraindications.

Medication List for Survival

NOTE: These and all medications listed are intended for your preparedness stockpile. If you become sick during normal times and you need medication go to your doctor and obtain a prescription. If you have the medicine and can swap out of your stockpile even better.

ANTIBIOTICS:

1.       Cipro (Ciprofloxacin) 500 mg – 750 mg tabs – 750 mg is a high dosage, but if you can get it go with that one. Otherwise get the 500 mg.  Reasons to have: It can treat a wide variety of ailments but can also treat Anthrax, Plague, Travelers Disease, Cholera, Tularemia, Typhoid, Pneumonia, Infectious Diarrhea, and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s). In the event of a major outbreak, epidemic, or even pandemic supplies may be short and allocated to certain individuals. I do not recommend for prophylactic use just to have in case of real sickness. Please review contraindications of use on your own.

2.       Bactrim DS (trimethoprim/sulfa methazole) 160/800 mg tabs This is another Cover it all antibiotic agent. Good for UTI’s, pneumonia, bite wounds and MRSA skin infections.

3.       Amoxicillin 500 mg tabs – This is good for Upper Respiratory Infections, UTI, Bronchitis, skin or soft tissue infections, Pneumonia, and Lyme Disease.

4.       Flagyl (Metronidazole) – 500 mg tabs This covers Giardiasis (Beaver Fever)

5.       Azithromycin – If you can get it I recommend adding a couple of 3-day and/or 5-day Dose Packs for each member of the family. Good for Pertussis and Pertussis Prophylaxis, URI, Bronchitis, and several STD’s.

Topical Creams and Ointments:

1.       Triple Antibiotic Ointment (Neomycin, Polymyxin B Sulfates, Bacitracin Zinc, Neosporin,) – A good cure-all for topical based infections. While I like creams and ointments, I had a wound specialist doctor share with me that the Neosporin cream is better than the ointment. It helps promote faster healing and reduces scaring. He seemed to be correct and I primarily use this now.

2.       Lamisil or Tinactin Cream – Antifungal. Athletes foot, Jock itch, Ring Worm

3.       Lotrisone (Betamethasone/Clotrimazole) – prescription strength Antifungal (covers entire body)

4.       Hydrocortisone Cream – Great for skin rashes, bug bites/stings, and itchy skin.

5.       Silver Sulfadiazine (SSD) – For preventing and treating skin infections after second and third degree burns. Targets multiple types of bacteria and yeast.

Anti-Diarrhea:

1.       Imodium (loperamide) – The best solution for diarrhea.

Anti-Vomit:

1.       Zofran (ondansetron) – Anti-Vomiting.

Pain:

1.       Aspirin 325 mg tabsAspirin is often overlooked these days, but 2 tabs or 650 mg works great for relieving most aches and pains.

2.       Ibuprofen – Another good choice for aches pains and minor to moderate injuries. Also, helpful at reducing fever.

3.       Tylenol (acetaminophen) Another good choice for minor to moderate injuries, aches and pains. Fever reducer.

4.       Oxycodone 5 mg – Narcoticis great for major injuries, but will require a prescription and is a heavily restricted narcotic.

5.       Codeine 30 mg – Narcotic – Good for moderate pain but again a prescription is required.

NOTE: For high and prolonged fever, you can give both Ibuprofen and Tylenol together at every six and four hours respectively.

Other Medications:

1.       Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) – is an antihistamine for treating sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, hives, skin rash, cold and allergy symptoms and mild allergic reactions. (severe allergic reactions will require a shot). Will cause dizziness and drowsiness (sleepiness).

2.       Neosporin Antiseptic Spray – easy to use spray that offers both antiseptic properties and pain relief. Topical use only.

3.       FlexSEAL – Spray on water tight bandage. Great for quickly covering minor cuts and scrapes.

4.       New-Skin – Liquid bandage – waterproof.

5.       Hydrogen Peroxide.

As mentioned previously, some of these may be difficult to obtain unless you have a prescription from your doctor. If you have a close trusted relationship with your doctor you may be able to ask and explain why you wish to obtain these. Additionally, you may want to consider adding a doctor to your preparedness group if you have one and have them help you gather the needed supplies for your group.

If you do not belong to a preparing group, now is a good time to start considering one and looking for good people like a doctor or pharmacist to join you.

All the information in this post are based on survival and preparedness and not considered medical advice. As with any medical situation you should always seek out proper medical advice. We recommend consulting with your doctor before proceeding.

You can also download a PDF of our Medications to Stockpile for Preparedness.

 



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