It's Snake Week for Power Outages and Business Disruption

July 21, 2017

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

Power outages are a nuisance, and there’s basically nothing businesses can do to avoid them, since they can be caused by so many unpredictable situations.  A surprisingly common cause this summer season has been wildlife – particularly snakes, which have often found uninhabited substations to be a seemingly perfect shelter from the elements and human traffic.

In three separate incidents on Wednesday, power service was interrupted in Jacksonville, Florida, Forsyth County, Georgia, and four towns outside Fort Collins, Colorado (Loveland, Johnstown, Milliken (News - Alert), and Platteville). Snakes crawled into substations and came in contact with energized equipment, causing the outages.

While none of the outages were long-lived, thanks the quick work by local utilities, businesses in all three areas were at risk beyond simply being unable to operate for a short period.  The much greater risk, in fact, is the potential damage power surges can cause to their technology if unprotected by a good power protection system.

Last week, an Arkansas courthouse found out firsthand the damage an electrical surge can cause, when its phones and servers were knocked offline due to a damaged switch.  The Crawford County Courthouse was fortunate in that the damage was limited, but the result was an effective shutdown of operations, which any business would suffer in today’s digital environment, if network equipment were to fail.

Utilities implement protective measures in an effort to keep out wildlife, but as we’ve seen time and again, animals, birds, and snakes find ways to circumvent them.  As a result, countless businesses have suffered outages and lost revenue.  While there’s nothing businesses can do to keep surges from happening, they can ensure their technology – their operational lifeline – is protected by installing a power protection system that has been purpose-fit for their needs.

It’s an expense, and many businesses don’t have it high on their list of priorities – until it’s too late and they have to replace an expensive switch or server.  Much like cybersecurity, power protection should be a proactive measure all executives have high on their agendas to prepare for what will inevitably happen and ensure business continuity when it does.

Edited by Alicia Young