Prevent power disruptions with a backup generator

ibhsPower outages resulting from unpredictable weather, man-made or natural disasters, or site-specific events can disrupt your business operations, and even cause significant damage to your business’ competitiveness. Worse, statistics show that one in four small businesses  forced to close due to a disaster, never reopen. To ensure you stay open for business when disasters strike, have a back-up generator on hand.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommends that businesses purchase and regularly maintain a generator. A generator will help keep your business running, no matter what the weather.  This fall-back tool enables you to continue operating some or all of your electronic equipment and lights and minimize business interruptions.

The following provides basic guidelines when considering a commercial generator. Additional information on buying, installing, maintaining and using a commercial generator is available on IBHS’ DisasterSafety website.

Choosing a Generator
Before purchasing an electrical power generator, consider what electrical equipment must be operable when normal power is interrupted. Other considerations include:

  • how often does your business lose power and for how long;
  • what are the most likely sources of power outages; and
  • do you need a portable generator or a permanent generator.

Purchase and Installation
IBHS recommends retaining an expert who has extensive experience with all types of generators to assist in choosing the design and installation of the right generator; specific attention should be paid to the applications required to meet your business needs. Make sure the  expert helps select the right size generator for your needs. This will include a determination of wattage needs (constant and start-up) and voltage ratings.

Testing and Maintenance
Most emergency generator failures are typically caused by poor testing and maintenance practices. IBHS suggests that maintenance contracts with third parties are a good way to make sure your system is regularly maintained and achieves prime performance. In addition, before an impending storm strikes that could result in a power outage, test the generator system and top off all liquids at the conclusion of the test.

Safety Considerations
Using a generator poses certain risks that must be addressed for safe operation, including fire, damage to electrical equipment, and even injury or death to those operating the generator or working in the building where it is being used.

  • Business owners should never use generators indoors or outside near windows, vents, or air intakes that could allow carbon dioxide from the exhaust to come indoors.
  • Never overload a generator. Before using a generator, contact a certified electrician to conduct an electrical load analysis of the building and equipment to determine the power consumption of the entire building and individual electrical equipment.

Additional resources to help business owners create a business continuity plan are available through IBHS’ Open For Business and OFB-EZ programs. Both provide free, easy-to-use downloadable toolkits.

Kohler Rental powers, cools Gulf bird cleaners

Kohler Rental, part of the Kohler Co. (Kohler, WI) Global Power Group,  is providing temporary power and air conditioning services to wildlife rehabilitation centers located across several Gulf Coast states. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Washington, a bureau in the U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Washington, established wildlife M*A*S*H units following the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill that has been occurring in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana since April.
   Included in Kohler Rental’s support effort is Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Buras, LA, an epicenter of bird rescue and cleaning operations located in Louisiana’s fringe coastal area, south of New Orleans. The center plays a crucial role in the effort to rescue, clean, and save the lives of hundreds of brown pelicans and other native bird species exposed to the crude oil that is polluting the Gulf of Mexico.
   Helping wildlife caretakers combat Louisiana’s summer heat and humidity, Kohler Rental has brought in portable air conditioning equipment and power generators to run the units and power the equipment used to clean the birds. Including additional wildlife rehabilitation centers and temporary housing for volunteers and workers located in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, Kohler Rental has been called upon to deploy nearly 30 high-capacity air conditioners and power generators in support of the oil cleanup efforts.
   “The men and women rescuing, cleaning, and nursing pelicans and other birds back to health in Gulf Coast states may not know Kohler Rental is onsite. And we’re not running the wildlife rescue camps. However, the people who do operate the rescue centers reached out to Kohler Rental and it’s our mission to climate control the rescue camp and deliver additional power. By providing a more comfortable working environment, Kohler Rental helps keep workers at their best throughout the countless hours spent caring for the helpless birds,” said Mike Nasif, general manager, Kohler Rental. “Kohler Rental is involved in something a lot bigger than Kohler and fortunately what we do—providing for temporary climate control and power needs—can make a difference. It has been awe-inspiring to see the passion and dedication of the people we support as they save wildlife affected by this environmental disaster.”

The Fort Jackson Center’s role in the crisis
Brown pelicans and similar bird species get oiled as they float on the surface of Gulf of Mexico waters or when diving for fish. Once oiled, the pelicans can lose the ability to fly, dive for food, or even float on the water. In some cases, an oiled bird will die of hypothermia or become ill as a result of ingesting oil while grooming themselves.
   If found and rescued in a timely manner, oil-coated birds have an extremely high survival rate after receiving care at bird-cleaning camps. Upon arrival, each bird is given a physical and time to de-stress. Removing a bird’s oil-coat involves meticulous scrubbing with household dishwashing detergent, followed by a rinse and dry. Prior to being released into wildlife refuges located away from the Gulf, birds at Fort Jackson are placed in outdoor aviary pens, referred to as Pelican Island, for observation, recovery, and rehabilitation.—Gary L. Parr