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Hurricane Preparation and Emergency Power Generators

Hurricane Preparation

Names like Katrina, Maria and Irma are all too familiar for those in hurricane-prone regions across the United States.

Every year, hurricanes wreak billions in damage for commercial entities and residents alike in top-effected states like Florida, Texas and Louisiana. Nearly every business type in these areas will lose power at some point during a hurricane’s lifecycle, if not numerous times. In certain industries, from healthcare and military to manufacturing and food and beverage services, these power outages are not just revenue cutting — they’re life-threatening.

Your business cannot afford — literally or figuratively — to wait until a Category 5 storm is imminent to prepare its power sourcing and electricity contingency plan. Natural disasters often occur with little-to-no warning. Workplace hurricane preparedness is paramount, starting with a hurricane readiness action-plan and leading into equipping your facilities with the best generators and backup generators for hurricanes. Preparing your business for such instances is crucial to saving your company and its assets.

The Importance of Office and Facility Generators for Hurricane Season

 

The importance of having backup generators installed prior to or during hurricane season cannot be overstressed. Whether you’re managing a small business with a single storefront, a medical center with dozens of patients or a cold-storage warehouse with hundreds, if not thousands, of at-risk inventory items, it is mission-critical to outfit your facility with an independent source of power.

Consider the implications on these industries where backup generators are not merely a convenience but essential to function:

  • Hospitals: Lost power at a hospital, senior-living home, rehab center or any other healthcare institution seriously jeopardizes that institution’s ability to deliver even the most basic care. On a quantitative level, hospitals have the most to lose — cut power costs these facilities on average a staggering $690,000 per outage. Factor in the health and safety risks of inoperable machines and medical equipment and those costs skyrocket.
  • Military Facilities: Military bases and related installations calculate expenses of $179,087 per day for just eight hours of lost power.
  • Telecommunications: Network outages due to natural disasters like hurricanes account for nearly $15 billion in losses every year. Mobile companies are hit the hardest, spending between 1.5 and 5% of revenue fixing latent outages.
  • Data Centers: Unplanned data-center outages can cost operators upwards of $9,000 per minute. With the continual rise of the cloud and remote, outsourced data management and storage, those numbers are only projected to climb.
  • Manufacturing and Warehousing: Both small-batch and continuous manufacturing operations can face costs in the $150,000 range per facility per outage.
  • Small Businesses: Even “small” businesses — those with two to 20 employees — aren’t immune from the cost-prohibitive trials of hurricane-related power expenses. According to numerous studies, small-business downtime ranges from $137 to $427 per disrupted minute.

How to Prepare Your Business for a Hurricane

how to prepare business for a hurricane

Hurricane season begins in early June and ends in November. That’s half a year for hurricanes to potentially devastate areas along the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Florida and Gulf Coast. With a peak period from early August to the end of October, hurricanes are one of the most deadly and costly natural disasters for facilities in these coastal areas.

Informed decisions and office hurricane preparedness for employees are the first vital steps in mitigating risks. First and foremost, your business faces a core question in the event of a weather emergency:

Should I Stay…

If you plan to stay with your business during a hurricane — or if the facility cannot functionally “shut down,” as is the case if you’re in the healthcare, military or telecommunications industries — then you must create a disaster-recovery plan. The plan should include communications and logistics for you and your employees so you can maintain order even amidst a hurricane’s chaos.

You can coordinate secure meeting points and identify safe rooms in the case of severe weather. You will also want to develop an emergency kit in advance for materials you may need for later.

That hurricane emergency kit should include:

  • Water — one gallon per person
  • Non-perishable food
  • First aid kit
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Cell phone and portable charger
  • Whistle
  • Pliers
  • Moist towelettes and garbage bags for sanitation

…Or Should I Go?

In the case of an ordered evacuation, be open to the possibility of leaving your business behind. Allocate time for travel and know where the nearest safety shelter is located.

Even with a disaster recovery plan in place, evacuate if your business was built before hurricane building standards, if your business is vulnerable to flooding and high winds or if an official evacuation order has been issued. Pre-arrange a safe place to stay with family and friends or at a Red Cross location. Prepare a list of emergency contacts, and again, don’t wait until the last minute. Leave 24 to 36 hours before the hurricane hits land and stay off roads when it does.

Organize a to-do list before leaving that includes:

  • Turning off electricity
  • Bracing entry points
  • Locking windows and doors
  • Safely storing important paperwork
  • Removing items from high shelving

Additional Precautions Against Power Outages

There’s nothing you can do to prevent a power outage arising from inclement weather, but there are some precautions you can take to prevent the outage from negatively impacting your business:

  • Invest in surge protection for your business equipment.
  • Check backup systems for exit signs, smoke alarms and sprinklers.
  • Create an emergency plan and emergency kit for employees.
  • Know how to use your industrial power generator safely.
  • Include a company-wide protocol that will ensure the health & safety of employees that may be on-site
  • Ensure your generator is prepared for use so the gap between electricity from the utility and generator power is minimized.

With a plan in place, you can smoothly transition to your hurricane power generator and prevent sustained power outages from business setbacks, including damage to your systems or equipment.

Creating a Checklist to Ensure Your Business Is Safe During a Hurricane

Along with preparing an emergency kit, forming a safety checklist is just as important. There are many steps you can take to protect yourself and your business, first and foremost by purchasing a backup generator:

  • Generator Types: The most common types of generators include standby generators for backup power, portable generators for situational use or complete industrial power systems for the highest-demand operations.
  • Generator Power Source: Select the power source that’s most likely to meet the demands of your exact facility type and industry. These include battery, diesel, gasoline and natural gas. Do note, however, that in the event of a hurricane, natural gas lines will be powered down to prevent ruptures and therefore unusable during severe weather.
  • New or Used: Your business can buy new or used generators to maintain infrastructure cost-effectiveness.
  • Purchased or Rental: Renting a portable generator could be the ideal choice during peak hurricane season.

In addition to your backup generator selection and installation, consider the following disaster-recovery items and resources for your business:

  • Stay in Touch: The Red Cross provides a hurricane safety app to notify people when you are safe. Stay in touch with your employees, friends and family to know their locations. There are also radios from Red Cross organizations that enable users to stay tuned to the latest news. These radios are often weather resistant and you’re able to hand-crank the radio to keep it charged. It may be beneficial to keep these readily accessible.
  • Gas: If authorities issue an evacuation order, fill up your car and other gas tanks to avoid hectic lines at the station. It may be beneficial to buy a refillable tank that is often sold at gas stations and hardware stores for emergency situations.
  • Evacuation Plan: Evacuation plans are noted for each community. You should know the route to safely evacuate and any alternative routes.
  • Shelter: Locate the nearest shelter to protect you, your family, pets and employees if need be.
  • Prepare Your Business: Use hurricane shutters and board up windows with plywood for reinforcement. Bring any outside items inside your business or inside a garage to avoid high-wind damage.

Hurricane Preparedness for Employees

As a business owner, you are responsible for the safety and health of your workers. You are required to protect them from anticipated disasters on your premises. Communicating your emergency protocols and hurricane recovery plan, along with designated meeting points and safe room locations, is essential to keeping your employees safe during a hurricane. Ensuring the roles and responsibilities of every employee sets expectations on how to smoothly prepare for severe weather

Keep your employees updated on scheduling procedures, resumption of operation and Employee Assistant Programs available. Update a predesignated emergency phone number frequently along with other relevant information.

Employee Hurricane Prep

After a hurricane passes, you will likely need to recover your business from destruction. If you use your employees for help, be sure to follow safe procedures and general precautions, such as:

  • Using teams of two or more to lift heavy or water-laden objects
  • Having a first aid kit available
  • Checking flooded areas for holes or protruding objects
  • Reporting obvious hazards
  • Never touching downed power lines

Emergency Backup Generator Types for Hurricane Season

Severe rain and heavy winds leave powerlines vulnerable to damages and power outages. The harshest weather conditions like hurricanes compound these damages, resulting in extended downtime for your business or facility.

As noted above, one of the most important aspects of your business’ hurricane-disaster response plan is to secure one of the two major generator types — a backup portable or standby generator.

Generators can provide power to your business’ appliances and infrastructure. Assets such as your security system and IT systems will remain stable with a generator, ensuring your business is safe.

  1. An automatic standby generator automatically turns on and restores power to your business. Once utility power is restored, it will shut off.
  2. Portable generators also provide power to appliances for long-term or temporary use. Depending on the size of the portable generator, it can produce enough power for multiple simultaneous functions or completely backup your entire business operations.

When you’re running a portable generator, keep the following best practices in mind:

  • Run generators outside
  • Keep it away from open windows or garages
  • Have a carbon monoxide detector in your business
  • Purchase extra gas — order fuel on standby from a local agency, especially if you expect a prolonged power outage

How to Get an Emergency Backup Generator

how to get emergency backup generator

Those looking to bolster their hurricane responsiveness and create an airtight contingency plan can begin doing so immediately. With the following steps, you can secure the ideal emergency backup generator for your small business or facility through Woodstock Power’s unique generator selection and installation network:

  1. System Assessment and Selection: We have a nationwide web of electricians and partner businesses who can be deployed to your commercial facility, analyze its infrastructure and lend quality expertise on the exact type of generator you’ll need during a weather emergency.
  2. Unit Matching: Based on their findings, we can help match you with the ideal generator unit, help you decide whether to purchase or rent and choose the right fuel configuration for you.
  3. Installation or Commissioning: Aside from shipping you your generator, we’ll ensure safe on-site installation and instruction, so you have one less thing to worry about.
  4. Decommissioning: Our same team of trusted partners will come and take the generator off your hands once hurricane season is over or your rental needs are satisfied. This includes professionally neutralizing its fuel source, handling related fluids and safely disposing of excess contaminants or beyond-use materials.

Best Generators for Hurricane Season

Generators are in high demand during hurricane season and the most vulnerable areas like Florida and the Gulf Coast. While some generator manufacturers meet this demand by upping seasonal unit production, others — like Woodstock Power — offer portable commercial and industrial generator rentals that ship across the country and are the economical choice for many businesses.

While there are different types of generators, the only significant differences between them are the size or capacity of power and the type of fuel used to run the units. Each has specific benefits. Depending on the needs of your business, consider one of the following generators for hurricane season:

Portable commercial generators

Commercial diesel portable generators can be used for places not powered by an electrical grid and are commonly used as emergency power supplies. The generators are incredibly fuel-efficient, using about half as much fuel as gas generators, meaning they can last longer. While diesel fuel is typically more expensive, its higher performance and reduced maintenance costs make it more cost-effective in the long term.

The generator also doesn’t have spark plugs or wiring that need to be maintained. In the emergency of severe weather, you do not want to be worried about troubleshooting or replacing parts of your generator.

Diesel generators are also safer and easier to store compared to gasoline-powered generators. Because diesel burns cleaner, there is less risk of ignition creating a fire hazard. Gas generators are more explosion-prone than diesel.

At the onset of hurricane season, you should change your portable generator’s oil, air filter and fuel filter. Always use caution and follow safety procedures when preparing your unit.

standby natural gas commercial generators

Natural gas generators offer the benefits of cleaner and less expensive fuel. A natural gas generator allows you to meet emissions standards and take advantage of the relatively low price of fuel for long-term cost-efficiency.

However, these generators are tied into a natural gas pipeline, which means you typically don’t need to worry about running out of fuel. During hurricane season, however, natural gas companies often shut down gas lines to prevent ruptures, so a natural gas generator might not have fuel in an emergency.

Standby diesel commercial generators

Standby diesel generators are one of the most commonly used generator types used in the market. Diesel generators are not only extremely fuel-efficient, but they are built durable & highly versatile to satisfy power requirements across various different industries.

A downside to diesel generators is the fuel capacity. A diesel generator can only operate as long as it has a steady supply of diesel fuel. Often times, suitable tanks are attached to the diesel generator to supply enough fuel for 24 hours, 48 hours, or more if needed. When it comes to situations such as emergencies like a hurricane or other disaster, it is important to work out the logistics for refueling a diesel generator. If you rely on diesel fuel deliveries, will they be able to deliver in the event of an emergency? Is there a diesel fuel supply readily available in your area? Will you allocate space to store diesel fuel within your facility to ensure that the diesel generator can continue operating? These are important factors to consider when selecting a diesel generator.

Portable Diesel Generators

How to Use a Generator During a Hurricane

If misused, generators may cause serious harm to you, your business and employees. To ensure the safe use of generators during a natural disaster, follow these five tips:

  1. Place the generator at least 30 feet from your business.
  2. Operate in dry areas away from flooding and rain.
  3. Store fuel containers away from generators and other heat-emitting objects.
  4. Never plug a generator directly into your power outlets.
  5. Be cautious of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Search for Generators for Your Business

search for generators for your business

Hurricane season is a time of unrest and worry for all business owners. But it doesn’t have to be with the service of rented stationary and portable generators to keep your business safe and operational.

At Woodstock Power, we make the process of finding and selecting the right generator for your contingency needs as easy as possible so your business is prepared during emergency situations.

No matter your location, our generators are immediately available from different holding sites across America, and we can quickly ship generator equipment anywhere in the U.S. Because we have strong relationships with companies throughout the country, Woodstock Power provides additional services and turnkey solutions.

Woodstock Power operates nationwide, offering customers the option to buy or rent generators, depending on their needs and budget. If renting a generator or buying used equipment is more valuable to your business, we provide top-quality generators that have been tested. Each test ensures the generators are in peak operating condition to provide immediate service.

We offer a selection of disaster response-ready generators, including diesel, natural gas and three-phase that meet top-tier regulations. Woodstock Power provides each model and brand with its own spec sheet, delivering information specific to each model of equipment, saving you from having to execute exhaustive research.

Woodstock Power is committed to administering electrical services to a range of customers and helping buyers with delivery, installation and maintenance of their generators. Reach out today so we can partner with you on all hurricane emergency power needs.

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