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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Disaster Unpreparedness

The Boston Metro region is suffering from a > 100-year event.  The flooding of this week and two weeks ago have broken all records for rainfail in the region for the month.  Earlier today my basement started flooding (it's better now).  Fortunately I have a disaster plan, but I forgot to update it when I moved my office downstairs, and have also discovered a few things that need to change (like getting power strips above ground level).

Looking at how a mild or even major disaster could affect me gives me a lot of insight into the necessity of a disaster plan for single physician offices.

Flooding:  I have a sump pump which was effective in reducing water levels around areas that were causing the flooding in the first place.  I've also used it to elimanate water from the hot water heater.

Fire:  There's three fire extinguishers in the house (kitchen, garage and workshop), and we live two minutes from the fire department.  Beyond that, I have a safety deposit box where important papers are kept.

Power:  A loss of power would mean no computing (after three hours), no lights, and no refrigeration or climate control (heat or cooling).  I have a backup generator to supply power to the essential storage equipment (the refrigerator and freezer, and if necessary the oil furnace), and oil lamps and flashlights with plenty of batteries.  I bought the backup generator because it cost less than the freezer full of food I was expecting to lose one winter when the power went out, and it's paid for itself about 5 times.

Connectivity: Even if power doesn't go, I could lose cable connectivity which would mean that I have no internet or telephone.  There are three cell phones in the house, and at least two of them support internet sharing, so if cable goes, I've got a backup network connection, and if my IP connection is down, my VOIP provider will forward the call to our cell phone.

Hardware:  My children and I now have duplicate netbooks, if one fails, we can transfer data to the other, and I have a garage full of spare parts, and readily available computer expertise to fix problems. 

Backups: Some of those spare parts have been recycled into external hard drives which we use for backup storage.  We don't have any offsite backups, but then, I'm not really making enough use of personal computing to warrant that, and the critical files I have on my office laptop are backed up to servers at the downtown office.  The super critical files are on my person just about at all times, since they are attached to my key chain.  That's my backups for the CDA book.

What's your plan?