Disaster Preparedness Month is Here – It’s Not Just About Your Data

David Brown | 6/15/15

The Imaging Channel spoke with David Brown, President of Collicutt Energy Services Inc. recently to get a briefing on what businesses can do to be prepared when faced with a disaster that includes loss of power. We learned that there are certain steps and precautions business owners can and should take to mitigate the damage done.

Certain types of businesses and functions are especially vulnerable during power outages and include data centers, financial institutions, assisted living facilities, hospitals, cell tower sites, emergency call centers and gas stations. Making an investment in onsite backup power equipment can ensure reliability, safety and productivity. Weeks and in many cases, months could go by before power is fully restored following an outage.

Brown recommends installing a stationary emergency standby generator as the best way to prepare for a disaster. Onsite backup power provides a reliable and cost-effective way to mitigate the risk of economic loss and societal hardship from power outages. Standby generators are also installed with an automatic transfer switch so that when power loss does occur, the generator will automatically turn on and there will be very little interruption. Brown pointed out that Hurricane Katrina is a prime example of the usefulness of an emergency standby generator. When banks had to switch to backup power sources, they were able to maintain their database and prevent data loss automatically. According to Brown, onsite electrical power generating systems are readily available in a wide variety of designs for specific uses and customer applications.

Brown compiled a few basic questions that business owners should consider asking a vendor when selecting a stationary emergency standby generator:

•   What generator is right for my business needs?

•   How big is the unit?

•   Where should the generator be located?

•   How will the generator be connected to my building?

•   How noisy is the generator?

•   What type of fuel does the generator require?

•   Do I have to provide space to store the fuel?

•   Where and how can I purchase the fuel?

•   What warranties are provided with the generator?

Brown also mentioned that as with most office equipment, preventive maintenance plays a critical role in maximizing reliability, minimizing repairs, and reducing long-term costs. He advised we think of it as a car:  if a car sat unused in a driveway for a few years, how sure would you be that it would start? Every year, it is recommended to check the condition of the generator’s fuel and replace the batteries as necessary. This will ensure that it turns on, runs smoothly and does not encounter any problems when the backup generator is needed most.

Business owners can opt for a maintenance agreement for their generator, which provides routine service based on the specific power application and the severity of the environment. Brown suggested looking for a company that can also service it to maximize your investment and warranties, and ensure the servicing technician has an intimate knowledge of your particular generator.

Realizing that a standby generator is not always a realistic solution for every business, Brown suggested a back-up option would be to connect a towable rental generator to an existing docking station which has been previously installed at your facility.

Brown has outlined a couple of items that business owners should consider when selecting a rental generator distributor:

•   Reference the Electrical Generating Systems Association member database for a list of trusted vendors, as it is the world’s largest trade association  dedicated to on-site electric power generation.

•   Know where the vendor is located and what the service technicians’ response time would be if a disaster were to strike.

•   Make sure that the generator could not only be delivered to your location, but also connected, tested and maintained by the distributor when needed.

•   Most importantly, business owners should consider what their access to fuel will be like during a disaster and how they will be able to power the generator in an emergency situation.

As a business owner, it’s important to develop a business response plan to protect you, your employees, your business, and of course your clients or patients. Coming up with a detailed disaster plan ahead of time is the best way to ensure that risk is minimized.

For more advice on power generation, visit www.collicutt.us.