Vital Records/Data Protection


  • All businesses, no matter how small, have what can be considered vital records and data.
  • Preserving vital records during a hurricane and gaining access to them after is essential to the quick restoration of operations.
  • Increasingly, businesses have their vital records stored in their computers.
  • However, not all businesses have computers and not all vital records lend themselves to computerization.
  • Vital records, computerized or not, need to be protected.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Vital records are records having informational value so great and th consequences of loss so severe that special protection is justified to reduce the risk of loss. These records may be irreplaceable or difficult to replace and are probably necessary to the resumption or continuation of the business.
How do I determine which records are vital to my business?
Use the following list to identify:
  • What vital records apply to your business?
  • Where are they located?
  • Who is responsible for them?
  • What form are they in (paper, computer)?
  • Are they backed up or duplicated?
  • What, if any, special equipment or information is needed to access them?
  • Payables/receivables
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Active bills/invoices
  • By-Laws
  • Contracts and agreements
  • Copyrights, patents, trade secrets
  • Cost accounting and analysis documentation
  • Information about customers, vendors, suppliers
  • Building drawings, plans
  • Equipment registers
  • Expense reports, analyses
  • Financial statements
  • Business Plans and forecasts
  • Insurance records and schedules
  • Inventory control records
  • Lease and rental agreements
  • Loans and mortgage documents
  • Management reports
  • Market Research
  • Patient records
  • Order processing and shipping records
  • Payroll records
  • Personal records
  • Product lists and specifications
  • Repair and maintenance records
  • Retirement and pension records
  • Rolodex files
  • Sales analyses
  • Social Security Records
  • Tax Records
  • Warehousing and stocking records
  • Work in process records
  • Corporate policies and procedures
  • Permits
  • Operating procedures
  • Ownership records(titles, deeds, etc.)
  • Manufacturing records
  • Emergency contact lists
  • Inventories of assets
  • All other information or records requires by law to be retained

How can I protect my vital records that are in my computer system?

Procedures should be established for protecting and accessing vital computerized information and records after a hurricane. Some approaches to consider include:

  • Backing up all computer systems on a regular basis
  • Storing your on-site tapes and disks in insulated fireproof/waterproof containers
  • Assigning a trustworthy individual responsibility for getting these records off-site in the event of an evacuation
  • Storing copies of your back-up data off-site or online
  • Having back-up hardware available off-site in case you are not able to return to your business
  • Making sure you have the installation disks or cd's for the software you use in case you have to use another computer off site.
How can I protect my vital records that are not computerized?
Procedures should be established for protecting and accessing vital information and records that are not computerized. Some approaches to consider include:
  • Making photo copies of all paper vital records
  • Storing your paper vital records in fireproof/waterproof filing cabinets or containers
  • Assign someone to be responsible for getting these records off-site in the event of an evacuation
  • Maintaining a complete and current inventory of all vital records.

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