Power Outage & Contingency Plans

Dec 18, 2019

For those of you on the East Coast, we are facing one of our rare March snowstorms. When a March snowstorm comes in they are usually pretty severe. This one is more of an icy mess than a huge amount of snow.

Those of you that follow Bottom Line on Facebook know that we had a power failure a few years ago. As I sat there in the dark and the quiet (it is amazing how quiet an office is without electricity), I realized that I do have some contingency plans but they are all in my head and maybe it was time to formalize them. It was time to sit down and make a list of what I needed during a crisis.

Power: can’t do much of anything without it, right? After Hurricane Sandy a few years ago, there were hundreds of people at the local mall with their devices plugged into any outlet they could find. I decided that was Plan W, me sitting on the floor at the mall with my laptop, air card, and a cushion. So Bottom Line has a back up generator and with some planning on electrical usage can function for a few days. And yes, it includes the, oh-so-vital coffee maker.

It was also time to take inventory of what was working and what was not working. Almost everything in my office is on a battery back-up and will run through a very short period of power. This gives me un-interrupted service for all of my various devices. And if it is not a very short loss of power, I can now shut down everything properly and prevent any loss of data. So after shutting down my main computer, the server room and coming back to my office, I realized that computer number two was completely down. That computer had the smallest battery back-up and so a new, larger battery back-up is now on my shopping list. But all in all, I was satisfied with my plan.

My first line of back-up is the laptop and my air card. While not as comfortable to work on with the smaller screen, it can be run on it’s own battery for several hours. And with the generator can be run easily and re-charged while not in use. The laptop can access the server from anywhere with the air card and I could work on any of my client’s securely. Secondly, my iPad has the same capabilities as my laptop and with proper battery management (shutting down all non-essential apps) it can last for days on one charge.

My plans are now formalized and saved on my server. There is also a paper version in the office for anyone’s use during a crisis. This is of course, not the most convenient way to work but if another hurricane, derecho, or a March blizzard heads into the Baltimore area, Bottom Line will be on-line.