Preparing For Sudden Tech Failures

Sheri Fink, the author of “Five Days at Memorial” and a producer of the TV adaptation, was recently interviewed at a premiere for the show. The book and the series are about life and death decisions doctors were forced to make when Hurricane Katrina knocked out electricity at Mercy Hospital, causing the life-preserving ventilators to fail.

What struck me was that during her red carpet moment, Sheri told the interviewer that she hoped people would think, “What are a couple things I can do in my own life that would make my family, my community, my workplace more prepared for… emergencies?”

I am not surprised Fink took the time to share that important message. She and I have been good friends since we were in medical school together, and she has always been focused on how to make things better for all people. 

The truth is that preparing for potential crises, both small and large, is not something we humans are particularly strong at. In my line of work, I see countless people who forego medical screenings even though doing so can dramatically reduce the severity of a potential problem — think uncovering an early-stage tumor vs. a far advanced one.

Today, I am not here to talk about preparing for major medical issues but instead preparing for potential tech troubles. While very minor in comparison, tech troubles can happen at any moment, and if I can inspire any reader to get their family to make one small move around tech, then I will feel accomplished. (And I thank Sheri for planting the seed of preparedness.)

Thinking about what I would write this week for Tech Talk Tuesday,  and Sheri’s message, made me think about preparing for potential tech-related problems — from lost tech to tech failures. On a personal level, what could I do to lessen a tech emergency’s negative impact on me, my family, and my work? And equally important, I realized it was a good time to talk with my husband and kids about what they were doing to be prepared for possible digital calamities. 

Here are four key things I did.

First,  I thought, “What if my family and I were to get into an accident, and I had lost my phone?”

I had to consider whether I’d know what numbers to call. I know my husband’s number, but not my kids! So now, I’m working on memorizing my kids’ numbers. I checked with my family to ensure they know at least one of our numbers by heart — they do.

Second, I thought about all my hard drives. 

Many are backed up, but I needed to get them more organized. Also, drives get old, and if they have not been rebooted for a long time, they might not start up again. I  decided to check those old drives and transfer the contents to newer ones. Finally, I asked my neighbor if I could store some of my backup drives at her home in case anything were to happen at my home — theft, fire, etc.  

Third, I got more serious about using LastPass 

LastPass is a browser extension that keeps track of all the passwords attached to different accounts. 

Fourth, I made sure my husband was using two authentication systems for our online banking.

I had these systems in place for our accounts on my end, but I wanted to be sure he did too.

There are, of course, many other tech-related safety measures we all can take to ensure that we will be prepared for the unexpected.

In the same way that Sheri’s YouTube inspired me, I hope this Tech Talk Tuesday post will inspire you to take action, including talking with youth in your life about the steps they can take to prepare for the unexpected. 

Questions to get the conversation started: 

1. Do you have a couple of key phone numbers memorized? If not, which ones do you think would be best to commit to memory in case of emergency? 

2. What privacy settings do you have on our devices? How about on social media? 3. Do you learn anything about tech safety and preparation in school? 

4. Is there any other tech problems that might occur that we can prepare for now?