Protecting your credit union against storms, equipment failures and squirrels?

by Tim Daugherty

One of the most common interruptions to credit union business is from power outages. Power outages are usually caused by another event such as storms, flooding, car accidents and even squirrels. Yes I said squirrels. I know of a business that lost power because a squirrel was able to climb into and short out a transformer on a telephone pole. The local businesses lost power until the transformer could be replaced. Outages can last for a few minutes, hours or days. This can impact how we serve our members especially if we can’t open the doors due to security concerns.

Maintaining proper backups of systems will help to ensure that minimal data could possibly be lost. Production processes could come to a halt if critical systems are not properly identified and connected  to the backup power sources.

Determining Risk Factors:

  • Geographic location – exposure to natural events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, etc.
  • Age of facility – older buildings may not have sufficient electrical systems to support loads required by servers, pcs, and other equipment.
  • History – account for how many outages, brownouts, and other power failures your business had previously. These past experiences will indicate your susceptibility to another event.

Mitigation Measures:

  • Purchase generators to serve as backup power sources.
  • Purchase uninterruptible power supplies, which provide interim power to safely shut down computers.
  • Purchase and use surge protectors to help protect equipment
  • Stock flashlights and batteries. Place throughout the facility.
  • Key personnel should have cellular phones with car chargers.
  • Save computer data regularly and store backup copies off-site or use replication services
  • Install illuminated exit signs.
  • Buy battery-operated radios or hand crank radios
  • When possible, distribute work and reroute calls to alternate locations.
  • Relocate employees to an alternate site if appropriate.
  • Create a list of important telephone numbers, including the local utility provider, clients, and business partners. Update list regularly.

These are just a few mitigation measures and other measures can be found online at or on the FEMA websites. Credit union power outages require careful planning to mitigate as you can see.

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