May 19, 2024
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May 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

After Hurricane Isaias hit the Bergen County area, causing 100-year-old trees to fall and rip down wires, all the outage precautions you wish you took became a priority.

Here are some guidelines and some FYIs:

(I try to triple check any facts I write about. I met with a PSE&G station manager and I asked a bunch of questions.)

What happens when a tree falls on wires?

PSE&G shuts down the affected area from the central station. (I had thought the PSE&G had to come and shut the power on the street; that is not the case.)

So if the power is shut off from the central station can the trees be cut down?

Yes. He still recommended that anyone should not be a hero and take their own chainsaw and start cutting as limbs could be loose and fall after. Live wires are no joke.

Is it true that apartment buildings are dealt with first so the call center can bring down the number of calls?

No. PSE&G monitors everything from their end and is immediately alerted to whose power is down.

Should we call and alert about an outage?

His answer was it didn’t hurt but no one should think that PSE&G deals with areas based on call volume.

Back to my tips:

So how can one prepare for an outage? The basics are to purchase an extended battery that can charge your devices. I like the Aukey line on Amazon that runs for about $35.

Assume you may have to vacate your home. As I have written in the past, scanning your critical docs on a USB key and storing in a fireproof safe is a good idea, though at this point I would add that having a Chromebook fully charged isn’t a bad idea.

Many of us overload the power circuits with surge protectors. One surge can cause even your hard drive to become inoperable. (This happened to my wife’s laptop in the one area we lacked a surge protector. Shoemakers’ shoes always have holes.)

A power strip from a.99 cent store isn’t what I am referring to. Go online and spend the money on a APC or Cyberpower UPS. This device will give some time to work and shut down. The devices are “smart.” Once power is restored the UPS will restart. A very annoying issue can be caused by some cheaper UPS products. Even when power is restored, the plugged in devices will stay on temporary UPS power. I always restart my UPS manually.

With our clients, we are able to restart from the web. The UPS projects your devices from a surge. This isn’t overkill—trust me. (My neighbor’s printer caught fire years ago after a tree fell.)

Here are the call we get after an outage:

Why is my office down when all the computers are running?

Yes, they are running, but 95% of today’s IT relies on the internet. Especially shops like ours that use cloud based Wi-Fi and infrastructure.

My business can’t be down, what are my options?

Here are two options that are effective:

1. Order a second circuit from another carrier, i.e. get Altice AND Verizon. Most qualified engineers are able to load balance both circuits.

2. Purchase a 4g LTE sim card for your router (if applicable) or a 4g hotspot that will serve as a internet connection.

3. Purchase a cradle point 4g router. This is better than a hot spot and any carrier data card can be used. The prices vary depending on the model. Well worth it to a business that relies on the internet to run the office.

Both options are implemented through 4g, which is good for browsing or a restaurant that only needs to transmit short bursts of data.

I can say first hand regarding Verizon or Altice that one ISP doesn’t stay up longer during a storm over the other. If the tree rips your internet line, down not much that can be done, and one company doesn’t do better than another. During a major outage, most IT MSPs like ours have to call in to the ISP like the rest of us. We don’t have any secret batphones to call for our clients.

I know waiting it out is frustrating. As our MSP manages schools and medical practices, there is no worse fear than our clients losing power for long periods of time.

We rely heavily on VOIP-based phones that are web-based. The good news is that the phones will ring and can be forwarded to any cell phone. A VOIP handset can be taken to any wired internet connection.

Usually right after the storm we get a lot of inquiries for alternative solutions if the internet is out. For me, a 4g hotspot/modem is the way to go. These are not cheap and usually require a paid cell carrier account.

And believe me, these things are irritating to everyone. Even my 15-year-old daughter says “Tatty, isn’t this what you do for a living? How come you can’t get my internet up?”

Never a dull moment.

By Shneur Garb

 

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