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Are you ready? What You Need To Do Before the Power Goes Out
September 6, 2013 // Diesel Technology Forum
disaster response emergency power generation command center
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Contact: Steve Hansen (301) 668-7230 shansen@dieselforum.org

Top Preparedness and Readiness Tips for Current and Prospective Owners Of Stationary and Portable Electrical Generators

Washington, D.C. – Are you prepared for the next emergency? If not, now is the time to take the important steps necessary to prepare yourself for future disasters – both the expected and unforeseen emergencies.

With September being designated as “National Preparedness Month” by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF) is participating in FEMA’s national “Ready Campaign”, which is geared towards building awareness and encouraging Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their homes, schools, organizations, businesses, and places of worship.

(To see emergency preparedness recommendations from DTF and other “Ready Campaign” participants go to #NATLPREP.)

“From powering the back-up generators that give hospitals and operating rooms electricity within 10 seconds of a blackout to fueling military and disaster-relief vehicles, diesel is a key player in protecting our public health and safety,” said Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “Because of the vital role diesel technology plays in emergency planning and response, we’re pleased to work with FEMA and other ‘Ready Campaign’ participants to offer tips and advice to families, businesses, and government agencies.”

Tips and Advice to Protect Yourself Against Power Outages

To help businesses and cities protect critical facilities during a power outage, the Diesel Technology Forum has outlined several ways to ensure backup power in a crisis:

- Assess the risk: Identifying your facility's critical loads is an important first step. Assign a cost to the risks associated with utility power interruptions, production losses and downtime. Make considerations if natural gas pipeline service is disrupted in your community.

- Install a standby generator: Frequent outages of a few seconds, a few minutes or more can often disrupt production lines and have significant cost implications to businesses. While other generator drivers take up to two minutes to engage, diesel-powered generators are uniquely qualified to provide power quickly during a power outage and offers the most cost-effective source of reliable backup power available.

- Have sufficient fuel storage: Diesel fuel's energy density and the engine's high efficiency allow for smaller fuel storage facilities compared to other fuels, which provides a cost savings to owners. Still, it is important to make sure that you have sufficient fuel storage capacity on-site for an extended outage of several days.

- Maintain your equipment: As required by electrical and safety codes, standby generators should be "exercised" periodically to ensure they will operate as designed in the event of an emergency.

- Contract rental power: If installing your own standby generation is not feasible for your business, you might consider contracting with a firm to reserve rental generator power for use in the event of an extended outage.

- Recheck your system and set up: One of the great lessons of Superstorm Sandy last year was that even the best generators won't work underwater when subjected to extreme flooding. Is your unit properly located? Is your fuel source also located in a protected area? Also, check the connections and assure you have the proper gauge extension cord for the electrical load and distance.

- Never operate a generator in an enclosed area! Generators need to be used safely in an outdoor setting. Carbon monoxide fumes from generators can build up in enclosed areas and poison people. Never use generators or other gasoline or charcoal-burning devices such as grills or heaters inside your home, in a garage, in an enclosed area or outside near an open window.

- Check your load: Have you added any new demands or critical circuits to protect? If you’ve added new computers or other power-hungry devices, consider updating switchgear.

- Renew your commitment to maintenance: Make sure your current on all oil and filter changes, service contracts etc. You want your generator to start when you need it.

- Exercise is important: All manufacturers suggest you run the units periodically before you need them in an emergency. Many stationary units have automated weekly run cycles.

- Plan your refuel strategy: You don’t want to have a generator without fuel to operate it. Consider fuel contracts for your generator.

- Follow the rules: If you’re a business operating a stationary unit, make sure you have the proper permits and records on operations.

Power Outages Can Imperil Public Health & Safety

“So why is diesel such an important partner in emergency preparedness? Interruptions of electrical power, even of short duration, create situations that can imperil public health and safety,” Schaeffer aid. “Whether the loss in power is from weather-related natural disasters or electrical grid failures, resulting blackouts or brownouts wreak havoc and have enormous economic impacts.

Diesel-powered emergency generators provide the most reliable form of emergency backup power. Many international building codes and standards effectively require diesel generators for code compliance because of the need for rapid response time, load carrying capacity, fuel supply and availability, and reliability,” Schaeffer said. “One of the most important and unique features of diesel-powered generators compared to other technologies is quick response time, able to start and absorb a full electrical load within ten seconds of grid power failure.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing that the loss of electrical grid power due to storms, natural disasters or high power demands is becoming increasingly more common. With a growing dependence on technology and interconnected systems that rely on electricity, power reliability becomes increasingly critical. Hospitals, data centers, water and sewage facilities, fueling stations, and communication and transportation systems require continuous power to protect public health and safety.”

Diesel Provides Superior Performance Compared To Other Fuels

“As opposed to some other fuels and technologies, diesel-powered generators provide a steady supply of high-quality power and superior performance for transient or fluctuating power demands due to the high-torque characteristics of diesel engines,” Schaeffer said. “Beyond these most critical applications, the power needs for food and medical refrigeration, building operations such as elevators and sprinklers as well as banking and business networks further highlight the significant economic and other losses from power outages.”

Diesel Keeps Hospitals & Emergency Services Operating Throughout Disasters & Power Outages

Emergency Backup Power: Each second counts in the operating room, and diesel is a silent yet reliable partner to virtually every hospital across the country. No other energy source provides full-strength backup power within seconds of a failure by the primary electricity grid.

In the aftermath of hurricanes and other disasters, diesel-powered equipment immediately goes to work, aiding in rescue operations and clean up processes. Diesel's work continues as a partner in the rebuilding efforts. During power outages, diesel supplies the back-up power to keep critical services in operation.

Emergency Response: Call 911 and odds are that a piece of diesel-powered equipment will respond. Fire trucks, ambulances, and other rescue equipment all rely on diesel. Diesel is also becoming the power of choice for police cars.

Homeland Security and Public Safety: Diesel vehicles play an important role in protecting our public safety and homeland security. Approximately one-third of the fuel consumed by the U.S. military each year is diesel. And, in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks, diesel-powered construction equipment played a major role in the recovery and cleanup operations.

The following companies have additional information about diesel backup generators:

Caterpillar

Cummins Inc.

Deere and Company

MTU

Volvo Penta

Yanmar America Corporation

2013 DTF webinar “Role of Backup Generators in Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief and Recovery”

 

Connect with DTF

How do you keep up with the news on clean diesel? You can be a fan of DTF’s Facebook page, follow us on Twitter @DieselTechForum, or subscribe to our YouTube channel @DieselTechForum. You can also subscribe to Diesel Direct, a monthly publication featuring the latest clean diesel news and activities of the Diesel Technology Forum by emailing dtf@dieselforum.org.

ABOUT THE DIESEL TECHNOLOGY FORUM

The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit national organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information visit www.dieselforum.org.

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