The number of power outages in the U.S. has been surging in recent years, and about 25% of companies experience a power outage at least once a month, according to a recent survey.
For business owners, power outages usually mean work comes to a halt—costing valuable time, and inevitably revenue, as you lose access to your computers and internet.
25% of companies experience an outage at least once a month.
“A power outage can come any day and without warning,” says Leslie Chapman-Henderson, an expert on home and business protective measures who helped develop the federal Ready Business Program. “And once it comes, it can interrupt everything you’re doing.”
Chapman-Henderson cites three reasons for the outage increase: more extreme weather, an aging electrical grid and more cyberattacks. Here are five tips from her on how small businesses can weather their next power outage with less disruption:
1. Make a business continuity plan
Get your team together and visualize what would happen if power went out for several hours. How would you protect your assets, contact employees or serve customers? How would you safely return to operation when the outage is over?
The federal Ready Business Program, which Chapman-Henderson helped develop, lists three areas of importance: systems (including phone, internet, HVAC, alarms, vehicles), space (lighting, equipment, appliances) and staff (planning, training, drills). For businesses that are well-prepared in these three areas, there’s also service, which involves assisting the public or other businesses during outages.
The Ready Business Power Outage Toolkit provides a detailed guide for developing a plan.
2. Protect your data and connectivity
To prevent data loss from a power outage, back up your data frequently. At FLASH, all documents are backed up to a cloud server. If Chapman-Henderson is offline for any reason, her colleagues can still access her documents.
For most small businesses, internet access is essential every hour of the day—so it’s important to have a way to stay connected. Spectrum Business Wireless Internet Backup, for example, automatically activates in the event of an outage to allow businesses to maintain use of mission-critical devices such as point-of-sale systems. Up to four devices are supported for unlimited usage with an eight-hour battery backup.
3. Reach out for help
Check in with the key players in preparedness well before an emergency—don’t wait until it strikes. Get the apps, Twitter accounts and hotline numbers of your area emergency management agency and utility so you can stay notified about affected areas and predicted resumption of service. These agencies are important repositories of information: For example, some emergency management agencies know where gas pumps are still operating for vehicles or portable generators. (There’s also an app, called GasBuddy, which finds gas stations with working pumps during outages.)
Your local business association can also be a valuable resource for mutual aid planning. For example, in a part of Florida where Chapman-Henderson works, restaurants agreed that if an outage threatened their food supply, they would share a generator-powered warehouse.
4. Protect employees working from home
Like everything else, the pandemic has changed power outage planning. With so many employees working from home, businesses should help employees develop their home outage response plans. Portable home generators are a good option, but they can be dangerous or even fatal if not installed and used properly.
5. Shield key equipment from surges
During an outage, surges can damage equipment and create a fire risk. When an outage occurs, turn off and disconnect equipment to prevent damage. Also consider investing in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). These battery-based systems supply power long enough for a safe shutdown while protecting against surges and other power problems. A power strip can also protect against surges, but make sure it is UL-certified for surge suppression, Chapman-Henderson says.
“No one is immune from outages,” she adds. “But you can reduce the impact and immunize yourself from the downside results if you plan ahead.”
Spectrum Business Wireless Backup Internet can be added to your Spectrum Business Internet plan for just $20 a month—ensuring you and your employees can continue to use your internet and be productive, no matter what happens. To learn more, contact us at 855-299-9353.Print this article
Very timely information.