As I write this, I’m sitting at Falcon Computers here on the Big Island, using their Internet connection. Those of you who live around here know we had a pretty huge storm on the island yesterday (although some parts of the island were lucky enough not to get it too bad). In my case, the storm was raging directly over my house for about an hour, and I even had two lightning strikes within spitting distance of my house.
As a result of the storm, we had closed roads, power outages, and cable service (including cable Internet service) was shut down for about half the island.
I’m also guessing at least one of the cell phone towers was hit too, because my cell reception was completely gone for well over twelve hours. Keep in mind, like a lot of people these days, my main phone is my cell phone!
And as of about an hour ago, my Internet connection was still down, meaning it was out for over 24 hours, leaving me unable to do any work all of yesterday, and having to hike in here to try to catch up and take care of a few things.
The timing is kind of ironic, just a few days after I wrote an article about the pros and cons of using combined Internet and telephone service packages. One of the downsides I mentioned was how if there’s a storm and your Internet connection goes down, if you have Internet phone service instead of a traditional phone line, then you won’t have phone service either.
Because of this, I recommended sticking with the older more time-tested technology — in this case, a plain old regular phone line.
Well, I should probably listen to my own advice, since my business phone line is an Internet phone number, and not a regular “land line”, and since my cell phone got knocked out by the storm too, I would’ve been completely cut off it I didn’t still have a regular phone line (which I normally only use for faxes).
Fortunately, I did know the best ways to handle protecting my computer and other electronics from being damaged by the storm — in this article I’ll give you a few tips to protect your electronics from being fried during a storm, or during the aftermath.
Some of this you may already know, but there’s a couple of things I’ll mention that many people never think of, which can endanger your computer, TV, and other electronics if you don’t take care of them.
So pretty much everybody knows that it’s a good idea to unplug your computer or TV during a storm. I’ve also talked in a previous article about the importance of using a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply, sometimes called a battery backup) and how this protects your computer and other devices.
Even if you use a UPS or just a surge suppressor (again, a UPS protects you a lot better than a surge suppressor) you should still unplug the UPS or suppressor from the wall just to be sure — both a UPS and a surge suppressor are designed to “take a bullet” for your computer to protect it from a power surge like the ones that can happen from a lightning strike or when the power comes back on after a storm, but it’s still a very good idea to unplug anyway.
But even if you’re doing this (and good job if you are!) here’s what people frequently miss in these situations — electricity, like a damaging power surge, can travel up other types of wires, too.
So if you use a dialup modem still, and you have a phone cord plugged into your computer (or fax machine, satellite TV box, etc.) a power surge can go up that and fry your electronics that way. So you should always unplug the phone cord too.
Also, these power surges can come up the cable line, so I see people unplugging their TV or cable box from the electricity, but they leave the cable TV cable (coaxial cable to use the technical term) plugged in, and this can fry their TV!
Keep in mind, if you use cable Internet service, your cable modem can get fried in the same way, and if your computer is plugged into it (and not hooked up wirelessly in other words) this is a “back door” that a lightning strike or other power surge can use to fry your computer!
So to protect everything in your house, you should always not just unplug from the power, but also the cable (TV or Internet) and any phone cords during a storm. Do that, and you and all of your electronics (computers and otherwise) should weather the storm just fine.
Hope that helps.