New year, same old Florida weather. Here’s how to reduce your electrical risk at work.
- Florida is in hurricane danger for most of the year
- Electrical systems and electronics are at pronounced risk of damage
- A commercial generator will provide priceless backup power
- Uninterruptible power supplies are also essential
They say time flies. So does anything that’s not nailed down in Florida between June 1 and November 30. That half-year span is what we locals know as “hurricane season.” As if six months isn’t long enough to be on guard, Florida has the added risk of other tropical cyclone types. These can strike at any time before June or after November, which basically means we’re in the hurricane crosshairs more often than not.
It boils down to this: There is no guaranteed safe period to plan your defense, so start now! June will be here before you know it. Mother Nature may spring a surprise storm before then. Hurricane winds alone register as very dangerous at the lowest end of the scale, and that’s without considering the compound threats of lightning, torrential rains, flooding, and sharknadoes (just kidding about that last one).
Many Floridians have become foolhardy when it comes to hurricanes since we live with them like natural, noisy neighbors. Don’t let a lax attitude take your business down! Here’s how your staff and premises can avoid becoming toast when the next warning comes and why having a generator makes all the difference.
Expect a blackout and know how they happen
Power lines and other essential electrical cables are extremely vulnerable to high winds and the debris they throw around. They’re also at risk of being struck by lightning. Underground lines can be flooded and/or torn up in a storm. Pro tip: Stay as far away from exposed power lines as possible. Relying solely on public utilities means your business’ power will be down for a few days (at best!).
We all know it can take a lot longer than that for local authorities to get things running again. There isn’t anything your business can do about when and where hurricanes hit or how fast the county fixes things. You can, however, keep going during the worst weather if you’re backed up by a generator.
Owning and maintaining a commercial generator is the number one best practice against hurricanes. Here’s how to pick the right one for the job. It will keep the lights on, keep equipment running, and keep the AC alive. A cool workplace in a crisis (and at any other time) stops your employees from suffering serious heat-related side effects. Maintaining system uptime means you won’t lose valuable connections to the public and your partners, which saves everybody time and your business a load of money.
The average outage lasts for “only” 79 minutes, which many business owners may think isn’t that big a deal. A generator becomes even more of a sensible investment when you realize that the average cost for an hour of system downtime is $84,650! Having a backup power system is a no-brainer.
However, you have to use your head in other areas to avoid creating your own natural disasters. Know how to stay safe around a generator and don’t presume it’s the answer to all your electrical woes during a hurricane.
What else can I do?
We’re glad you asked. Generators are awesome standbys, but they’re not invincible. You’re back to square one if they fail, so it’s important to have contingency plans that don’t rely on unbroken electrical power and rain/flood levels staying low.
First, you have to check your workplace from top to bottom and look at the position of any electrical systems and electronics. If they’re on the floor and can be elevated – do it! This helps prevent hardware, data, and most importantly people from being flash-fried in a hurricane water situation. Next, you have to make sure you’ve made copies of all that important data on removable drives (preferably kept offsite) or in the Cloud.
Harmful power surges are all too common when the county gets the electricity turned back on. The current rushes back along the dormant lines and right into your office. Check if you have separate grounded circuits for your electronics and/or surge protectors and get them if you don’t; they’ll prevent power restoration actually causing more damage and delays to your operation.
Invest in the UPS (no, the other one)
Another very smart electrical practice for hurricane safety is investing in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). The name can be a little misleading if you’ve never used one before. It doesn’t provide uninterruptible power consistently so you can keep working for hours or days. What a UPS actually does is provide power for just long enough to keep all your computers and other electronics up and running for a temporary period.
Having a UPS installed is still a great asset since that temporary window lets employees shut programs and systems down carefully and safely. This is much better than having everything suddenly and expensively terminated by hurricane-related events. Check out our earlier blog for more in-depth information on installing and caring for a UPS.
Prepare in every other way possible
Your business is much more than its electrical system. Every operation should stock up on essential information from hurricane safety resources like Prepare FL, general tips and an employer responsibility list from OSHA, and connect with the state website for more essential knowledge. We also recommend registering your business with FloridaDisaster.biz to get your team better prepared for hurricane season.
Speak to the electrical experts with any questions
The Universal Electrical Team is here to make sure you’re ready to face whatever the Sunshine State throws at you. Our experts can assess your workplace and offer advice to keep your people, property, and profits protected from the worst.
We’re licensed throughout Florida with over two decades of professional power experience. Visit our contact page if you have any questions or concerns about hurricane-related power issues, and we’ll be happy to help!