We tend to be a little complacent around here when we start seeing the tracking maps hit the stores and the sales on batteries, radios, water and other supplies grace our favorite stores’ circular. Florida as a whole can go for several years without having an actual named storm make landfall, and for us here in Central Florida the risk seems even lower; even after having a year of three storms hit us!
The reality is electronics are delicate things. Even if we just get some heavy rain (much like we just had this past week) it can wreak havoc on un-protected systems. So, even though I can’t force you to be prepared for the worst a storm can bring I can give you advice on what you can do to ride-out this hurricane season while keeping your equipment as safe as possible.
• Check your surge protection/UPS – when did you buy, or have installed, the strips connected to your TV & components? Your camera system? Your computer(s)/phone system? If the answer was anything short of ‘a couple months ago’ start looking for sales and upgrade! It only takes one hit to ruin a surge surpressor. Unless you’ve got some serious backup, it’s definitely time to change it out before you get nailed and it doesn’t protect your sensitive equipment! Heck, if it’s a really good deal – buy two. **Note: Those ‘guarantees’ that come with some surge protectors will require pictures of the equipment you have, possibly serial #’s and they are very strict about how things must be plugged-in. If you’ve had it for a couple years and you get burned, don’t expect that warranty money!
• Backup your computer’s information – This is something we should all do at least once-a-month for personal computers, and daily or weekly for business. If it’s not something you’ve done before, or are spotty about keeping up with it yourself, consider one of the many online services that will backup your data for you, automatically. We use LiveDrive, which is located in the UK. Isn’t the internet great?! There are other companies as well – another popular choice here in the states is Carbonite – no matter if you do it yourself using a CD writer or external drive, or use a service to backup your data: start doing it now! If you get a surge or strike that hits your internet source (cable or DSL) it can fry your system and leave you starting over.
• Check any outdoor equipment and be prepared to bring it in – The cameras we provide are weatherproof with tight housings. If you purchased cameras yourself in a kit, it might be a good idea to take a look after it rains and make sure the housing is still in good condition. If you are getting a ‘fuzzy’ picture on your TV or DVR, there could be condensation in the lens and your camera isn’t as weather/waterproof as you might have thought! Also don’t forget about outdoor rock/planter speakers. It’s one thing to keep working if it gets some pool water splashed on it. It’s quite another to expect it to survive sustained high-powered winds and driving rain. **If connections will be exposed, put a heavy duty plastic bag around them and secure with duck tape. For extra protection, wrap the ends with electrical tape beforehand.
If you have a generator, now is the time to get it serviced! If you don’t, taking these extra precautions will help you to get through even the smallest of inconveniences with your devices intact. We always hope if a storm does develop it will miss us! But Mother Nature is un-predictable and it’s better to be prepared than sorry.