After a viciously frigid winter, many small-business owners around the country are asking how they can protect their businesses from natural disasters.
Vivek Malapati, segment leader for Cummins Power Generation, a company dedicated to increasing the availability and reliability of electric power, pointed to the frigid temperatures and unusual number of frequent snowstorms that caused so many power outages in the Northeast.
"Our region is enduring winter weather and power outages and closures unlike anything most of us have ever experienced," Malapati said. "In extended power outages businesses face potential financial losses and safety concerns. Being prepared is the key to solving power supply issues during severe weather. A proactive business owner who wants the peace of mind and assured business continuity that comes with a reliable source of electricity should consider installing a permanent standby generator."
While a tornado or hurricane doesn't have the vindictive nature of cyberattacks or fraud from theft, a natural disaster can cause just as much damage to your company as any man-made scheme.
According to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy, severe weather is the prime cause for power outages in the U.S. The report said there have been 679 widespread power outages between 2003 and 2012 due to severe weather, costing the nation's economy billions of dollars.
How to prepare your small business for severe weather
Whether you live on a coast and fear a hurricane or in the heartland of the nation and worry about tornadoes, small-business owners hoping to keep their company running without a hitch should consider an emergency power generator.
A backup generator allows your company to stay on schedule during a power outage, which could save you thousands of dollars while your competition suffers.
Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, said Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service are working together to educate families, businesses and government agencies on how to safegaurd them from natural disasters.
"Tornados, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, severe thunderstorms and other extreme weather occurrences can devastate a community," Schaeffer said. "We're proud of the role diesel equipment plays in America's emergency response programs. From powering the back-up generators that give hospitals and operating rooms electricity within 10 seconds of a blackout to powering disaster-relief vehicles, diesel is a key player in protecting our public health and safety."
Schaeffer explained that diesel-powered emergency generators offer the most reliable form of emergency backup power. Many international building codes require diesel generators because of their ability to provide power quickly. They also are routinely used because of their load-carrying capacity, fuel supply and reliability.
Some generators can take up to two minutes to provide backup power to a building, but diesel-powered generators can offer power quickly during a power outage while providing a cost-effective source of reliable backup power.
"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 10 seconds of grid power failure," Schaeffer said.
Pinpoint the risk
If you are a small-business owner who plans on protecting a critical facility, the first thing you should do is find the facility's critical load.
Calculate the costs and risks that a power outage might have on your business. Production losses and downtime are two problems that are spurred from utility power interruptions. Schaeffer especially implored small businesses in the area of a faulty natural gas pipeline to consider a backup power generator.
If your small business is in an area where natural disasters strike frequently, you should also consider all of your insurance options to keep your business protected.