Expert tips for small businesses experiencing heat waves and power outages

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Two leading small business experts have published tips to help small businesses cope with extreme heat waves, with the likelihood of power outages, forecast for the next week.

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Small businesses should also anticipate blackouts and outages as extensive use of air conditioning will put strain on the power grids. There are steps small businesses can take to mitigate their risks.

Two leading experts offer tips for small businesses experiencing heat waves and power outages. Donna Childs and Stefan Dietrich PhD are the co-authors of Contingency Planning and Disaster Recovery: a Small Business Guide (Wiley, 2002). The genesis of the book was their experience of working at a small business when their community was declared a federal disaster area. Childs and Dietrich have unique professional backgrounds that were critical to their own disaster preparedness and recovery, which expertise they seek to share with other small businesses.

“With heat waves forecast from coast-to-coast, small businesses must prepare for the consequences of extreme heat and humidity,” says Donna Childs. Stefan Dietrich PhD added, “Small businesses should also anticipate blackouts and outages as extensive use of air conditioning will put strain on the power grids. There are steps small businesses can take to mitigate their risks.”

In the event of a heat wave, small businesses should encourage telecommuting or give their employees the day off. Although the work facilities may be air-conditioned, employees still have to commute to and from work. A car that breaks down on the road on the way to work, or a delayed and crowded subway train, may put a vulnerable employee at risk.

After attending to human safety, give some thought to your IT assets. When confronted with a heat wave and inadequate air conditioning, consider “quarantining” computers until it is possible to verify that their fans are functioning properly. If air conditioning is available in some rooms, but not others, move the PC’s to the air-conditioned rooms for the duration of the heat wave or turn them off if possible.

Even when electrical power is available, there are quality issues, like peaks in voltage as well as micro-outages. Use an uninterruptible power supply unit (UPS), which is similar to a surge protector, but also includes a small buffer battery. The battery will supply energy for about 10 minutes after the electrical supply is terminated. This is sufficient to finish important work and to shut down the system. Most units support an automatic shutdown before the battery is completely depleted.

Some buildings supply self-generated backup power. This power is usually much “dirtier” than power from the outlet. Under these circumstances, small businesses should use a UPS unit that is designed to smooth out erratic electrical supply.

Certain office buildings have back-up generators that provide low levels of power for up to 14 hours after termination of the central electrical supply. During power outages, people often work with electricity delivered from a back-up generator, without the benefit of a UPS unit and damage their computers in the process. Turn off appliances and equipment during a power outage as power supply may be erratic when it is initially restored. Of course, all of the basic measures for preparation apply (keeping battery-operated radios, extra batteries, non-perishable foods, flashlights, bottled water, etc.). Simple steps, such as the ones outlined here, can significantly mitigate risks and protect small businesses.

About the authors:

Donna Childs is the founder and chief executive officer and Stefan Dietrich is the chief technology officer of Childs Capital LLC, a small business located within the so-called “zone 1” of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Prior to starting her business, Childs was a senior executive of the world’s largest reinsurance company and so dealt with major disasters around the world on a daily basis. Dietrich, who holds a PhD in Engineering and Computer Science, had formerly contributed to the disaster recovery operations of the London office of a global bank following the bomb attack on Bishopsgate. Because of their unique professional backgrounds, the Company was exceptionally well prepared to work through a major disaster, when their business went without essential services for some time, such as electricity, landline telephone, water, gas, mail delivery and pedestrian access. Childs Capital LLC is one of four businesses illustrating effective preparedness that was featured in the “Ready for Business” campaign of the Department of Homeland Security.

About the book:

Donna Childs and Stefan Dietrich PhD are the co-authors of Contingency Planning and Disaster Recovery: a Small Business Guide (Wiley, 2002). They wrote the book to share their knowledge and experience with others, which knowledge was critical to keeping their small business up and running during the worst imaginable circumstances. Donna Childs has assigned her author’s royalties to endow an academic program in her father’s name. For the past five years, she has been teaching seminars, free of charge to small businesses, to help them become disaster-ready.

Contact:

Donna Childs, Co-author, Contingency Planning and Disaster Recovery: a Small Business Guide.

Founder and CEO, Childs Capital LLC

http://www.preparedsmallbusiness.com
Mobile phone for the news media: (646) 284-0032

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