Mighty Quinn Deals Second Devastating Blow to Northeast, Unprepared Businesses Likely Suffered Significant IT Losses

March 09, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

Some customers hadn’t yet had power restored after last week’s winter storm Riley blew through the Northeast United States when another mighty Nor’easter, Quinn, moved through the region this week.  More than 800,000 customers lost power due to downed lines, falling trees and branches, and blown transformers, thanks to wet, heavy snow and gusting winds.  Schools in many parts of the affected states have been closed since Wednesday as cities and towns recover.  Many customers are expecting to be without power well into the weekend.

For businesses, even much lighter winter storms can cause disruption, creating scheduling difficulties due to difficult travel conditions and having to contend with family-related issues like school closures.  When power is lost, that disruption is magnified and even businesses that can survive with the help of remote access to resources are rendered helpless. 

There’s little any business can do to avoid any disruption, but there are absolutely steps they can take to minimize the impact or power outages.  Most of it comes down to advance planning.

As far as staff goes, there should be a communication process, not only internally, but also a designated person to coordinate with building management, local officials, and utility companies, as required.  Also make sure all staff are aware of any contingency plans, communications protocol, and schedule adjustment procedures.

If backup power supplies, temporary refrigeration, or other resources are needed during the course of the outage, information on how and where to secure those items, along with who is responsible, should also be part of the advance planning process.

For safety, businesses and building management should install emergency lighting to ensure staff are able to safely exit the premises.

As far as IT infrastructure and other sensitive technology is concerned, staff should understand what steps should be taken to prevent data loss and damage.

First, be aware of some of the telltale signs of an imminent outage, including flickering or dimmed lighting, image shrinking on computer screens, irregular humming or other noises from electronic equipment.  If there’s even the slightest sign that an outage may happen, all employees should be instructed to save any work and data and even shut down laptops and PCs to avoid damage.  Other non-critical systems should also be safely powered down.

It’s not a foolproof plan, as outages can happen without warning, and often systems aren’t shut down quickly enough, if at all.  As a result, many businesses find themselves having to restore data and software, assuming they have proper backups, or even replacing hardware that was damaged during the outage.

The safest way for businesses to protect their investments in technology is a power protection system designed to protect all their IT assets.  UPS systems come in a variety of types and sizes and complete systems can be designed and installed to accommodate individual laptops and PCs, as well as data center and network infrastructure, ensuring that investments are safely behind what amounts to a utility firewall. 

Power conditioners regulate voltage so spikes in voltage don’t cause any damage, and UPS units provide necessary seamless backup power to allow systems to be shut down either manually, or automatically through power management software.  Longer runtime UPS systems can keep critical components operational until power is restored, if needed.

While contingency planning is necessary to ensure the safety employees, when it comes to technology, there’s nothing that can replicate a power protection system when it comes to ensuring IT investments are effectively immune to power surges and outages.

Whether winter storms, fall hurricanes, or heavy spring and summer thunderstorms, if your businesses isn’t properly protected, you run the risk of having to deal with costly damages and even more down time.  Mother Nature doesn’t play favorites.

Edited by Mandi Nowitz

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