We’ve all seen the headlines — fearsome storms, flooding, earthquakes and more. Fortunately, these disasters don’t happen every day — at least not in most places — but hearing the news is a reminder that a severe weather event or natural disaster could happen on any given day in your town and at your facility. Do you have a disaster preparedness and recovery plan in place? 

Depending on Electronics

Today’s businesses depend on electronics to support their operations. Every commercial, industrial, educational and residential facility relies on electronic systems — including telephones, computers, networking equipment, video surveillance, internet access, POS systems, HVAC controls, and many more. 

Power surges put all this equipment at risk. Some people think that power surges only occur during lightning storms, but power surges happen all the time without warning. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, lightning strikes account for just two percent of all surge damage. That means that 98% of the damage is done by the hundreds of power surges that can go unnoticed every day.

These surges can be the result of something as simple as an air conditioner cycling on or off, or someone using a welder in a neighboring building. They could also be caused by something much farther away — for example, when electrical power plants are connected and disconnected from the grid (which happens frequently as power needs change during the course of a day). They can be caused by equipment failures and by human error during maintenance and repair activities.

Natural and manmade disasters such as earthquakes, flooding and high winds can also disrupt power delivery systems and cause live wires to come into contact with other cabling, including phone and data wiring that is not designed to carry high voltages. All these events could produce local or widespread power outages as well, effectively stopping operations until power and functionality can be restored.

Recovering From Disasters

Facility managers can’t prevent a disaster — but they can prepare for one. Every organization must spend time and effort to prepare a business continuity plan that includes reasonable actions to address the most foreseeable business risks. 

First on the list, of course, should be plans for the safety of staff and visitors. For any organization to restart operations, next on the list must be the protection of all critical business systems that support day-to-day operations. Without the electronic systems for computers, video surveillance and networking equipment, internet access, POS systems, HVAC controls, and other mission-critical systems, organizational operations, safety and security could suffer.

So, one critically important action is to ensure that not only do those electronic systems stay above any foreseeable level of water, but that they will survive power disruptions, surges and spikes that occur when power supply systems are hammered by natural or manmade disasters. Surge protection is a must not only for power supply connections, but also for every other wired connection that could be subject to unexpected voltages fluctuations and carry those damaging power surges back through the network cabling to sensitive equipment. This includes phone and network communication lines, antenna cables, signaling and control cables, fire alarms and more. 

With appropriate surge protection in place, critical electronic systems have a higher probability of surviving disastrous electrical events and remaining functional when power is restored. Don’t wait for a disaster to happen — protecting your critical systems has a modest cost and can pay big dividends. Be safe and recover from disaster — faster!