“Hang up and drive!” That's the frustrated refrain that comes from a lot of drivers who witness people trying to drive while talking on a cell phone. Admittedly, most of the time, little comes from talking and driving at the same time. For one man in Archer City, Texas, driving and talking caused a much bigger problem than many would expect.
The man in question lost control of his pickup truck, with an attached trailer, while he was reaching for his cell phone, which had fallen to the floor. His bid to retrieve the fallen phone caused him to swerve into the opposite lane and slam into a utility pole, breaking said pole and cutting power to nearly 200 residents. It didn't stop there, though; after hitting the pole, the truck and trailer then plunged into the front yard of an area resident, rolling until finally coming to a stop just short of the house's front porch.
The power outage that resulted not only stripped power from the residents, but it also shut down both City Hall and the courthouse, as the locations had neither computers nor phones. The driver was charged with displaying a false registration sticker, reports note, and he was not under the influence at the time of the incident.
This serves as an excellent lesson for businesses, and for regular residents as well; the power grid is a fragile thing. One errant squirrel can take out a transformer. One snapped line can cut power. One driver reaching for a cell phone at the wrong time can take out a utility pole and shut down power to the entire area. All of this can happen on a bright, sunshiny day without a cloud in the sky or a drop of rain to threaten. Power outages can happen at any time for a host of reasons, so smart businesses in turn should be preparing for the next big outage.
There are a lot of options for backup power, depending on how a business wants to handle things. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) system can provide a few extra minutes of power in an outage to shut down computers and save work, which is valuable, if only for properly preserving work at the point of the outage. Backup generators can allow work to carry on, and even allowing telecommuting can keep work going via the simple expedient of employees working from places that didn't just have a power outage.
In the end, the smart business knows that the power grid isn't something to rely on. While most days it works just fine, there's no assurance from one day to the next that it will. Failing to plan for its outages can mean a loss of revenue, and no business wants that.