If you work from home, you’re in good company. One in five employed Americans do some or all their work at home. Home-based businesses and telecommuters are on track to increase by more than 10% over the next several years.
For the increasing number of us who work at home, a power outage isn’t an inconvenience; it’s a threat to our livelihoods. Here are five things you can do to help prepare your business for a power outage.
1. Back up Your Data Regularly. Can your business survive the loss of critical files? If you lose power, you’re just a hard disk crash away from disaster. Protecting yourself is easy. Regularly back up important data to an external drive, NAS (network-attached storage) device or online.There’s a strong argument for double back ups as additional insurance. And, of course, one set of back up data needs to be stored off-site or online.
How frequently should you back up? It depends on how much data you can afford to lose. Some data-driven businesses back up in real time. Others schedule automatic back ups at the end of day. Some just perform a back up every Friday or every month.
2. Protect Your Electronics. A power outage — think lightning, downed power lines, distribution issues — is the most likely occurrence for transient voltage, the spikes and surges that can fry or damage voltage-sensitive electronics. You really do need surge suppressors.
3. Prepare a Storm Kit. Think ahead and prepare for a power outage by packing a bucket or container with necessities before the power goes out. Think flashlights, batteries and a first aid kit. Add protective gear like raincoats, gloves and goggles in case you need to remove debris. Large plastic freezer bags will keep important documents dry (insurance info, for example). A disposable camera can document damages for an insurance claim even if your mobile phone is out of juice.
You might want to add markers and cardboard to write a note or sign. And, of course, duct tape for everything else. The bucket should have a secure lid to keep everything dry, and the bucket itself will come in handy if you need to transport water.
4. Have a Backup Power Plan. Will a portable generator be enough? A portable can deliver limited power for relatively short outages. It’s suitable for construction work, field work or recreation. A standby generator offers a more comprehensive backup power solution for the devices your business relies on.
5. Business-Specific Requirements. How much power does your business need? That depends. A home-based tailor may only need power for lights and a sewing machine. A caterer with a commercial kitchen needs to refrigerate thousands of dollars of perishable goods. No matter your needs, a standby generator can supply power to the equipment your business relies on.