Surviving Nuclear Winter
Some of us just don’t feel comfortable unless there are no less than 96 rolls of toilet paper stashed away. You just never know when there could be a shortage, particularly if you’re old enough to remember that cold December evening back in 1973 when the Tonight Show’s Johnny Carson started that run on Charmin. Pioneers on the hardscrabble prairie lined their basement shelves with canned goods, and children of the Cold War era weathered schooldays punctuated by dives under their desks to keep in practice in case of nuclear attack or worse, re¬turning home to the family bomb shelter. The eve of the millennium saw Americans stocking up on canned tuna, bottled water, and cash while we wondered if the technology that we depend upon would still work after the Rose Parade had run its course.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, www.fema.gov, publishes a lot of useful information for protecting your business against all natural hazards, earthquake, fire, flooding, and even high winds, but it still doesn’t address the ordinary hazards that could cripple our practices. It’s your responsibility to create your own safety net.
Remember the days when many of us had but a single computer? If it was down, so were we. Everything came to a standstill while we worked out the kinks. “My computer crashed” is no longer an acceptable excuse. Back up your data, and always have another machine at the ready.
Losing your access to the Internet is far worse than having the water shut off. Coke and beer will sate your thirst, but those without a backup Internet service provider will sit wondering how they’ll send and receive email, access Westlaw, read the news, review bank statements, make online payments, and order new merchandise from Amazon. What if UPS is on strike? The UPS strike of 1997 came just when my one copier gasped its last breath, and driving a hundred miles to buy a new one ate up an entire day. Your man in brown may not deliver when you need him most.
And what about the most important resource in your office—human capital? How will you survive if the influenza pandemic or even an ordinary car accident puts you and your staff suddenly out of commission? Can you find your way around your own office in your secretary’s absence? Can someone else pick up the pieces if you’re on the fritz?
One last piece of advice: pay your mortgage and other loan payments a few months ahead. You never know when that cushion will come in handy. Redundancy never killed anyone.
jennifer j. rose, editor-in-chief of GPSolo, survives in Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. Contact her at email@example.com.