Lightning Knocks Out Power in Colton, California Putting Essential Technology at Risk

September 01, 2017

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

Early yesterday morning, a lightning strike knocked out power for 50,000 residences and businesses in Colton, California.  As if the mere loss of power wasn’t bad enough, temperatures have been in triple digits and expected to hit 107 degrees during the day.  While the majority of outages tend to impact much smaller footprints, the lightning bolt hit a substation that effectively powers all of Colton.

Initial repair estimates were in the ten hour range and by late afternoon, power was restored for most customers.  In fact, small areas started seeing power return as early as 9:00am, only a few hours after the outage.

Many facilities, including the Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, have ensured they are self-sustainable during power outages, having installed water storage tanks and generators.  The Medical Center says it could remain operational for four days with its generators.

Even so, a lightning strike poses a significant threat to equipment at not only the Medical Center, but at any business, due to the major surge it can send through the lines when it hits.  As power is restored, another surge is likely as well.  At either end of the power outage, unprotected technology is at risk.  With smaller surges, chances are the damage is limited to weakening circuits and decreasing the usable lifespan of the equipment before failure.  With more powerful surges, permanent damage is much more likely and can easily knock out sensitive network, data center, and communications equipment, requiring costly repairs or even replacement.

With highly specialized medical equipment in the picture, the imperative for power protection systems is heightened, since they are required to treat patients in life-threatening situations – which, unfortunately, can be common during significant storms and power outages.

The fact is, though, that every business relies on its technology to function – whether they are part of the medical ecosystem, a legal firm, or in any other vertical market.  Considering the investments they make in technology, installing a power protection system is an easy way to maximize ROI on those investments, while also minimizing downtime and extraneous costs.  

Edited by Erik Linask

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