A Short Cut from Power?

What if the next power cut is longer than you expected?

Most people think they know about power cuts.

They happen. They last under an hour. Then the power comes back on.

Only sometimes it doesn’t.

Downtown Vancouver is making the news at the moment with a power cut due to a transformer fire which has lasted a couple of days. Unlike most transformer fires, this one is underground. It can’t be repaired quickly, and businesses in the affected area are (mostly) shut down.

Does it make sense having a backup generator? That depends on how likely this sort of disruption is (not very, which is what makes it a news item), what the economic effects are on the business (loss of current customers, loss of future customers), and the practicalities and costs of siting a backup generator in downtown Vancouver.

However, every business should still have a written plan for what they should do during a short or extended power outage, even if it only says “put a sign on the door, change the answering machine message, lock the doors, and send everybody home”. You’ll be lucky to think of everything at the time, and if you forget the sign or the answering machine message, customers might just think you’ve locked the doors for good.

16 July 2008

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