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Dealing with adversity November 3, 2012

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tech tips.
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4 comments

We may not all have to deal with adversity such as those in New York and New Jersey are dealing with at the moment – or the folks in New Orleans and the Gulf coast back in 2005. However, at some point we all deal with the power going out or our Internet going down. It goes without saying that you should at minimum have an emergency radio that is solar powered and has a hand crank to keep you informed about the storm. However, there are quite a few other steps you can take to be as prepared as possible.

If your Internet goes down due to a technical glitch or problem with your Internet service provider, consider trekking to the local coffee shop or McDonald’s to use their WiFi. The Internet always seems to go down when you have a major deadline. This happened to me once when I had a major looming deadline, so I drove to the Panera around the corner and delivered my files from the comfort of my car. I was in my pajamas, so going in wasn’t an option. I am comforted to know that the McDonald’s three miles away from my home that is open 24 hours. Who knows when that may come in handy. If power is out all around you, consider driving to a friend’s home who might have power. I relocated to my parents’ house during the Northeast Blackout of 2003. Driving was tricky and slow with no street lights, but I managed to make it there safely.

If it’s likely that you’ll lose power during a major storm, you should always charge all of your devices ahead of time. Most importantly, when power does go out, unplug your devices to prevent them from being damaged when power is restored with a jolt. Also, if you’ve got a generator, it’s best not to run electronics like phones, laptops, and tablets off of it.

Once power is gone, it stays gone. A good backup battery is great to have on hand to allow you to safely power down your computer. I have used this feature several times now during minor power outages. The Energizer Powerpacks website offers a ton of options such as battery backups, external batteries, and a solar charger. I also own a Energizer Energi To Go battery charger for my phone that I used during the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day walk. I keep it in the drawer next to my desk in a Ziplock bag with fresh batteries. I bring it with me on trips just in case I need it. In fact, it was with me in San Diego. I am also seriously considering buying a solar charger I saw in the Skymall magazine on my flight to San Diego. It will conceivably allow you to recharge electronics such as cell phones or tablets by harnessing the power of the sun.

You can extend your phone’s battery life by disabling certain features, like WiFi and Bluetooth. It takes a lot of power to constantly search for a WiFi or Bluetooth signal. Also, dim the screen brightness and avoid playing audio at a high volume. If your phone is set to check email automatically at regular intervals, turn that off too. All of those processes drain battery life.

You should all already have a backup system for your computer. If you don’t, you need to start thinking about it now. Rather than rehash the subject again, I will simply refer you to my blog post from January 2011 called Backing up your stuff to the cloud. It’s nice to have a backup in your house, but inadequate if that’s all you’ve got. Remote backups with a service like Crashplan, Dolly Drive or Carbonite can be invaluable. I use Carbonite, and it has saved my skin twice now. Your most important criteria for choosing a service is to make sure that it is secure and reliable.

You should also store copies of important documents such as your family and your passport(s), birth certificate(s), car title(s), medical records, insurance inventories, bank records, etc. in the cloud somehow. This helps when you need to evacuate in a hurry as well as in the ensuing aftermath of recovery. The original documents should be stored in a big Ziplock plastic bag and the bag should be stored in a water-resistant and/or fire-resistant safe or emergency kit. I use Suze Orman’s Protection Portfolio. If something ever happens to me my sister knows that everything she needs is in this kit. A little preparation goes a long way to save you some headaches and protect your business.

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