Emergency Generator Tips For Business Protection From Power Outages

Posted by Heidi SchwartzNational  Sever Weather Preparedness Week

Is your facility prepared for the next emergency? If not, now is the time to take the important steps necessary to prepare yourself for future disasters – both expected and unforeseen emergencies.

In order to help people prepare for future emergencies, this week has been designated National Severe Weather Preparedness Week (March 2-8, 2014) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a nationwide effort designed to increase awareness of the severe weather that affects everyone and to encourage businesses and communities to know their risk, take action, and be an example.

“Because of the major role diesel technology plays in emergency planning and response, we’re pleased to work support FEMA and the National Weather Service in providing awareness and advice to families, businesses, and government agencies during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week,” said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

“Tornados, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, severe thunderstorms, and other extreme weather occurrences can devastate a community. We’re proud of the role diesel equipment plays in America’s emergency response programs. From powering the back-up generators that give hospitals and operating rooms electricity within 10 seconds of a blackout to powering disaster-relief vehicles, diesel is a key player in protecting our public health and safety.”

Schaeffer said diesel-powered emergency generators provide the most reliable form of emergency backup power. Many international building codes and standards effectively require diesel generators for code compliance because of the need for rapid response time, load carrying capacity, fuel supply and availability, and reliability.

“One of the most important and unique features of diesel-powered generators compared to other technologies is quick response time, able to start and absorb a full electrical load within 10 seconds of grid power failure,” Schaeffer said.

Tips and Advice to Protect Your Community and Business Against Power Outages

To help businesses and communities protect critical facilities during a power outage, the Diesel Technology Forum has outlined several ways to ensure backup power in a crisis:

Assess the risk: Identifying your facility’s critical loads is an important first step. Assign a cost to the risks associated with utility power interruptions, production losses, and downtime. Make considerations if natural gas pipeline service is disrupted in your community.

Install a standby generator: Frequent outages of a few seconds, a few minutes or more can often disrupt production lines and have significant cost implications to businesses. While other generator drivers take up to two minutes to engage, diesel-powered generators can provide power quickly during a power outage and offer a cost-effective source of reliable backup power.

Have sufficient fuel storage: Diesel fuel’s energy density and the engine’s high efficiency allow for smaller fuel storage facilities compared to other fuels, which provides a cost savings to owners. Still, it is important to make sure that you have sufficient fuel storage capacity on-site for an extended outage of several days.

Maintain your equipment: As required by electrical and safety codes, standby generators should be “exercised” periodically to ensure they will operate as designed in the event of an emergency.

Contract rental power: If installing your own standby generation is not feasible for your business, you might consider contracting with a firm to reserve rental generator power for use in the event of an extended outage.

Recheck your system and set up: One of the great lessons of Superstorm Sandy was that even the best generators won’t work underwater when subjected to extreme flooding. Is your unit properly located? Is your fuel source also located in a protected area? Also, check the connections and assure you have the proper gauge extension cord for the electrical load and distance.

Never operate a generator in an enclosed area! Generators need to be used safely in an outdoor setting. Carbon monoxide fumes from generators can build up in enclosed areas and poison people. Never use generators or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices such as grills or heaters inside your facility, in a garage, in an enclosed area, or outside near an open window.

Check your load: Have you added any new demands or critical circuits to protect? If you’ve added new computers or other power-hungry devices, consider updating switchgear.

Renew your commitment to maintenance: Make sure you’re current on all oil and filter changes, service contracts, etc. You want your generator to start when you need it.

Exercise is important: All manufacturers suggest you run the units periodically before you need them in an emergency. Many stationary units have automated weekly run cycles.

Plan your refuel strategy: You don’t want to have a generator without fuel to operate it. Consider fuel contracts for your generator.

Follow the rules: If you’re a business operating a stationary unit, make sure you have the proper permits and records on operations.