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Is Your Emergency Standby Generator Ready to Weather a Storm?

220px-Hurricane_Irene_Aug_22_2011June 1st kicked off hurricane season, with the prediction by the NOAA being that at least nine storms will hit land, be sure you are prepared for these and any other natural disasters that come your way. Have the basic supplies (food, water, batteries) and make sure to have your emergency standby generator checked for proper operation. A good place to learn how to be prepared for natural disasters is the Ready.gov site, check it out – there are many good tips.

What about a business – if your business shuts down because of an outage – you lose money and your employees lose money.  Think about the Tornado in June, Hurricane Irene in August and the early snow storm in October here in New England last year; many places were without power for days and some for weeks.  Make sure you have an emergency standby generator and make sure it has been professionally serviced recently and is in proper working order. Just prior to a forecasted storm, give your standby generator a dry run to make sure it is working and that the automatic transfer switch is set to turn on the generator if the power goes out.

If the power does go out, realize that the utility company will have a mess on their hands with knocked down power lines and blown transformers. Their first priority will be restoring power to emergency service providers and residences – your business may be on it’s own for a few days.

Here are some tips to prepare for a power outage during a storm:

Protect Your Employees

People make your business run. Without your staff you would not get very much done, make a plan for them when a storm is coming. You need to let your staff know what constitutes a required work day when inclement weather strikes and what does not. Also, who will be responsible to oversee clean-up efforts at your place of business after a storm passes? Will you have power available for these people to get back to work? If not, is there any point in coming back to work until the utility company gets it together?

Safeguard Your Building

Storms can damage buildings, both wind and water damage can destroy your office. In rented spaces, talk to the property manager about getting routine maintenance, like roof inspections or tree trimming, done before a major storm threatens. If your company owns the building, you’ll be responsible for the preparations:

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  • Make sure trees are trimmed.
  • Move important files and electronics to interior rooms that are elevated (if possible). Windows break and wind makes sure that water gets inside – plan to protect your documents, computers and servers.
  • If your building is in a flood zone you may also want to locate a temporary work space. Having planned this in advance will pay off if storm damage is severe.

Anticipate Customer Needs

It doesn’t matter what kind of business you run; customers will need service regardless of weather. Make sure that you will be prepared to communicate with them before and after the storm. Let them know in advance that severe weather may slow you down a bit, but that you will be there for them. You might even want to tell them how you have an emergency standby generator that will let you operate after the storm passes. Not only will you show them that you know how to plan, but you will also prove that you are dedicated to getting the job done. After the storm update them on your status as soon as you can accurately do so. Let them know that you will be getting back to work and that they are not forgotten. While many will understand that you are dealing with a natural disaster, the truth is that they all won’t.

Hopefully Mother Nature will be a little more kind here in New England this storm season – nobody wants a storm to disrupt their lives. Either way, make sure that you and your business are prepared for the worst.

Do you have a power outage story from last year’s storms at all?  Feel free to share with us.



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