weatherIn the US, Irene is coming. Maybe. It could be a Category 3 hurricane in Florida where PCMech is based.

There are many write-ups on the internet describing the best ways to protect your electronics during weather disasters, however there’s a few things they don’t cover in too much detail that are pretty important.

A UPS is little good to you if you can’t physically get to it

An uninterruptable power supply is a sound investment that anyone who owns a computer should have. The problem however is where people place their UPSes. Usually they’re placed on the floor and then shoved back under the desk. This doesn’t affect performance negatively but presents the problem that if you need to press a button on the thing or unplug stuff from it, you’re on your hands and knees under the desk navigating through a mess of wires (even if bunched properly) just to get to the UPS.

You should have easy or at least relatively easy physical access to your UPS. This may require reorganizing your computer desk area, but it’s worth it so you know you can physically access your UPS without breaking your back in the process.

AC outlets not in plain sight are not good

You know AC outlets as power outlets.

In most situations you don’t have a choice where AC outlets go. They are near the floor and yes you will have to get on your hands and knees just to get to them most of the time.

The best thing to do in a weather disaster situation is to unplug everything you can; that above all else will save electronics from power-related damage. While the UPS will protect your stuff the vast majority of the time from blackout or brownout, the stuff not plugged into a UPS obviously doesn’t have the same protection. As such, you need a way to unplug that stuff quickly, and you can’t very well do that if the AC outlets aren’t within relatively easy reach.

Turning off a power strip isn’t enough

It’s probably true the electronics you have not plugged into the UPS are powered via a power strip. It’s also probably true the power strip has some sort of power protection in it such as a surge protector. Under normal circumstances you’re OK here, but in weather disaster situations, absolutely not.

If your AC outlets require you to physically move something (a desk, a chair, a filing cabinet or whatever it is) just to get to them, that’s not good. All that should be required is to bend over and pull the power strip’s AC cord out of the wall without having to move around anything. If you can do that, you’re OK.

"The way the room is set up doesn’t allow me to do that. Is there an alternative?"

Yes. You can hook up your power strip to a proper extension cord like this one. What makes that extension cord proper is that it’s 14-gauge cord, grounded, has heavy shielding and is OSHA approved. It’s also 108 inches (9 feet) long, so that should be enough length for your particular application.

Should a weather disaster happen, you can unplug the strip from the extension cord instead of having to go to the wall. The cord may be wrecked by the time you go to use it again from power damage, but better to wreck the cord than your electronics.

Insuring your computer is actually a really good idea

This has almost nothing to do with technology but everything to do with replacing items damaged from weather disaster.

The question is always the same: Where does one buy personal computer insurance?

One place is Safeware. Their individual desktop PC coverage includes coverage for accidental damage, theft, robbery, burglary, drops, falls, collisions, cracked screens, liquid spills, submersions, power surge damage, vandalism, flood and fire. In other words, almost everything.

I want to make very clear Safeware isn’t the only choice for computer insurance. You may have a local insurance provider for personal items that you’d prefer to go with instead. All that matters is what’s covered, and if the coverage fits everything – including stuff that can happen by weather disaster – get a quote and see if the policy offered fits your budget. You may never use it, but it’s really nice to have for those just-in-case scenarios.