Hybridge spends a lot of time thinking about business continuity and disaster recovery for our business clients. However, our dependence on technology does not end when we leave the office, increasingly, our homes are more and more dependent on technology as well. Recently one of our team members experienced a business continuity challenge at home. Here is his story:
Two months ago, towards the end of the torrential rains in Menlo Park, we lost power at my home. As it turns out, the PG&E vault containing the transformer serving my street flooded, which shorted out the transformer and cut power to our immediate neighborhood. The power went out at around 2 AM, and despite round the clock efforts by PG&E’s contractors, it didn’t come back until almost two days later. Fortunately, we were only inconvenienced. We didn’t have anyone who needed specific medical equipment, or a baby who needed heat and warm milk. That being said, it was a great reminder of our dependence on electricity, as well as the need to make adequate preparations for unexpected, adverse events at home as well as in the office.
The first morning we woke up to the power outage it was cold. We have gas heat, but Nest thermostats need electricity. We could light the gas cooktop with a lighter to make tea, but the coffee maker, microwave, and toaster were all off. The bigger issues included cold showers: our water heater is tankless, so we have no stored hot water, and our electric garage door, for which we had to use flashlights to find the emergency release lever, then pull open the double-door manually using a ladder. Fortunately, the battery backup for our electronic door entry system kicked in, which allowed us to get back in the house in the evening, and I had brought home some spare UPS battery backups for our toilets as we learned that their flushing mechanism is electrically powered (they are the Japanese toilets). Even though Wi-Fi and our home phones were down we could still use a mobile phone to order food via DoorDash, and then after dinner we took a trip to Hybridge HQ to use the office gym showers. Everyone had headlamps and extra blankets since the temperature was in the low 40s. I had recently bought a portable power bank which was able to charge everyone’s phones overnight, which was our daughters’ primary concern.
In retrospect this turned out to be an interesting adventure. It was fortunate that we had lots of flashlights and batteries, the portable power bank, access to UPS battery packs and showers at the office, and that we knew how to manually open the garage door. The temperatures were low enough that the food in the freezer didn’t thaw, but not too low that pipes started bursting. However, are other folks as flexible and prepared? Can your family and your business survive easily with no electricity for more than 24 hours?
In your home or in your office, you should have a backup plan to ensure these problems are only a minor inconvenience instead of a full-blown catastrophe. For a home issues like this, here is what our team member who experienced the outage recommends:
Power Bank - Wirecutter recommends the Goal Zero Yeti or EcoFlow, both good choices. I bought a much smaller, lighter, and cheaper Aeiusny on Amazon which worked fine, 8 phones and iPads plus a couple of MacBooks barely made a dent in the power reserve.
If you do not have a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan in place for your company, please contact us. This is foundational policy every business should have defined. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you think through the issues every company should tackle as part of their BCDR plan.