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Hurricanes and Hospitals: The Importance of Emergency Power Generators in Natural Disasters

Why are generators so important to hospitals?

The past two weeks have shown how devastating hurricane season can be, with Harvey already leaving parts of Texas under several feet of water and shutting down major cities, and Irma leaving at least 2 Million people without power. National forecasts are calling for even more hurricane activity, well above average. This leaves over 1500 U.S. hospitals at risk for significant damage from the wind, flooding and the inevitable power outage.

In 2001, Tropical Storm Alison shut down several major medical facilities in Harris County, TX and in 2005, Hurricane Rita slammed down on south-east Texas causing catastrophic blackouts at area hospitals and nursing facilities. And no one can forget the damage done in that same year by Hurricane Katrina when dozens of patients died in dark hospitals waiting to be rescued from 100+ temperatures and rising waters.

Houston is home to the largest healthcare compound in the world. During Tropical Storm Alison, several facilities at the Texas Medical Complex suffered severe damage from flooding and power outages, the vulnerable backup power systems failing the test. Though some effects of the storm are unavoidable, proper maintenance and routine load-bearing tests of emergency generators go a long way in ensuring continuity of care during a power outage.

Lighting, ventilation equipment, and air conditioning are all essential in keeping patients comfortable and safe while awaiting evacuation and all require a steady and reliable source of power. Smaller hospitals may require only 150 to 500kW to stay operational; it would take up to 10mW to power a large medical facility during a natural disaster.

Though now a tropical storm, Harvey still serves to test whether health officials have learned from the past. Better coordinated evacuation efforts will definitely help, however, building and infrastructure upgrades are what saves lives. When you can’t get out in time, the emergency power generators are the best line of defense against tragedy.

For more information on emergency backup power generators and how we can help you be ready for the next storm, give us a call!

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