Prepare for power outages

Monday, May 3, 2010

Here's a bright idea: Your business should be prepared for a power outage. Too many are not.

This is especially critical at this time of year when the portent of damaging spring thunderstorms, winds, torrential rain, and tornadoes are not out of the realm of probability.

According to a recent survey, only 39 percent of small businesses have backup power systems that can keep the lights on, the computers running and employees working during power outages. Power outages cost at least $80 billion each year, with most of the losses - 98 percent - borne by businesses, according to a study conducted on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. Additionally, short outages of five minutes or less accounted for two-thirds of these losses. In only a few minutes your records and daily data so vital to your business can be wiped out. Small-business owners can protect themselves by taking these steps: 1. Plan, plan, plan. Any disruption can throw a business out of whack, but having a plan can help owners stay focused while their businesses begin to return to normal. 2. Invest in backup power. Install a generator and a power-transfer switch that detects the loss of the main power source and immediately converts to the generator. 3. Protect computer data. Mission-critical components such as PCs, cash registers and other electronics should be connected to battery backup systems known as uninterruptible power supplies. See your local electronics dealer or computer service, or contact your electronics supplier for valuable information regarding what to do when the power fails. Ensuring business continuity to help your business maintain a healthy bottom line begins with a plan for using backup power supplies in case your main power source goes down.

Cautionary, preventive steps taken now can save you considerable money and angst in the future.