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Basic tips for avoiding heat-related business continuity problems

Get free weekly news by e-mailAs many areas of the US suffer under the current heatwave, what can small companies do to ensure that business continues as usual? Two experts offer tips for businesses experiencing heat waves and possible power outages.

Donna Childs and Stefan Dietrich PhD are the chief executive officer and chief technology officer of Childs Capital LLC. They are also 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:

In the event of a heat wave, small businesses should consider telecommuting. Although the work facilities may be air-conditioned, employees still have to commute to and from work. A car that breaks down or a delayed train without air conditioning may put a vulnerable employee at risk.

After attending to human safety, small businesses should give some thought to their IT assets. When confronted with a heat wave and inadequate air conditioning, they should 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 computers to the air-conditioned rooms for the duration of the heat wave or turn them off if possible.

Blackouts often accompany heat waves as the power grids will be strained by demand. Even when electrical power is available, there are quality issues, such as peaks in voltage as well as micro-outages. Businesses should use uninterruptible power supply units which will supply energy for about ten 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 use 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 the basic measure 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.

Date: 3rd August 2006• Region: US •Type: Article •Topic: BC general
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