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There's been enormous media attention on the recent events in the UK. Allegedly, terrorists were plotting to blow up planes using liquid explosives triggered by portable electronics. The result is new restrictions on items that can be carried onto planes.

Making matters worse, the laptop battery recalls by Dell, Apple and Sony have attracted the attention of the FAA. Over the past two years, there have been a handful of incidents where battery powered devices have overheated on aircraft. Some of those actually caught fire!

Could we be headed for a total ban of carry-on electronic devices?

There's no way to know but it pays to be ready for such an eventuality. We may have to choose between checking all electronic devices and leaving them behind. If you decide to bring them along, here's how to transport them safely in your checked bags.

  1. Make sure the device is turned off and not in a standby or idle mode. This will save power and eliminate heat generation. If the device is a laptop computer, hibernate mode is okay as this does not use any power.

  2. Pack devices in anticipation of rough handling. Small devices can easily be wrapped in clothing. Larger items, such as laptop computers, should be bundled in soft foam or bubble wrap. For extra protection, place the wrapped device inside a laptop computer bag before placing in your suitcase.

  3. As an added precaution, wrap power cables neatly around power adapters and leave some space between them in your bag. If you have a mass of tangled wires and electronics in your suitcase, it may look like a bomb on an x-ray machine resulting in the bag being opened for manual inspection.

  4. Never check a laptop bag as a separate item. It will invite unwanted attention and can be easily stolen. Placing the laptop bag in a suitcase provides both security and damage protection.

  5. Alternatively, ask yourself if you really need that laptop on the trip. Many PDAs and smart phones offer the ability to process email, edit documents, create spreadsheets and even give PowerPoint presentations. PDAs are much smaller and lighter than any laptop making them less prone to damage.

  6. Buy good quality luggage locks. They are a deterrent to theft by discouraging opportunists. Be sure the lock is approved by the Transportation Security Administration - such locks can be opened by security screeners if needed without damaging the lock or the suitcase.

These common sense measures give you the best chance of having your equipment arrive safely. However, some level of risk remains. An electronic device could be lost, damaged or stolen in transit despite your best efforts. You need to be ready for these unlikely events.

You may find that the simplest and safest option is to travel light. Do you really need to carry all that electronic gadgetry? It's bulky, heavy and delicate. Consider using one of the following options instead.

Don't panic over new flight rules and regulations. Visit the Transportation Security Administration website for the latest information. Know your options and use common sense. You'll arrive safely and ready for business.

You weren't going to take all that stuff on vacation, were you?

Vin D'Amico is Founder and President of DAMICON, your ADJUNCT CIO™. He is an expert in IT Business Continuity Planning, Network Security Policies, and Freelance Writing focused on white papers, case studies, and handbooks. DAMICON services firms worldwide.

This article appeared in Vin's monthly Virtual Business column for the IndUS Business Journal in September 2006.

To learn more about how DAMICON can help your business, please take a look at our service programs.

Virtual Business

Virtual Business

This column appears monthly in the IndUS Business Journal.