by Chad Kennedy, Schneider Electric
This year marks the first time since 2002 that there has not been a hurricane by the end of August. The Atlantic hurricane season spans from June 1 to Nov. 30, with the most active part of the season running from Aug. 20 through early October, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Though the season has been relatively quiet, it takes one storm to cause major devastation. An often deadly outcome of hurricanes is flooding. It is crucial that companies identify pre-planning exercises to help restore water-damaged electrical distribution and control equipment efficiently.
1. Ensure electrical equipment is properly maintained.
For business owners, having electrical equipment properly maintained helps get their electrical systems up and running more efficiently. This includes system one-line diagrams, equipment documentation and regular testing of on-site generators.
2. Develop a safety plan that incorporates emergency procedures.
An Electrical Safe Work Practices (ESWP) policy is a written document created by the employer that covers all areas of the company’s electrical safety. The following guidelines might help develop a policy.
“- Facility: Includes company policies and systems à¯€
“- Equipment maintenance
“- Clearance limits
“- Safe working conditions
“- Personnel: Focuses on actual work practices
“- Qualified and unqualified personnel
“- Proper care and use of PPE
“- Job preparedness
“- Training and continuing education
“- Procedures: References on the job procedures and includes (but not limited to):
“- Performing energized work
“- De-energizing and re-energizing
“- Job planning
“- Arc flash hazard analysis
“- Equipment labeling
“- Reporting safety concerns
“- Record keeping
The NFPA 70E-2012 Edition states employers must verify regularly that each worker complies with the ESWP policy. Should a natural disaster strike, employers and employees should be familiar with emergency procedures and work practices.
3. Develop an electrical emergency action plan.
The purpose of the electrical emergency action plan (EEAP) is to understand the electrical assets, critical operational infrastructure, risks and short- and long-term power restoration execution plans. Considerations for developing an EEAP include:
“- Determining priorities: The plan should have a clear definition of what constitutes an emergency and when to execute the EEAP. Prioritizing critical functions is essential to restoring power efficiently and safely.
“- Emergency service contracts: Searching for temporary equipment after a disaster can be time-consuming and expensive. The EEAP should include emergency service contracts, critical equipment pricing, lead times and a deployment strategy with details on setting up and operating a command center to meet an organization’s needs.
“- Critical spare parts: Have a current single-line electrical diagram of the power distribution system and pinpoint the electrical equipment essential to business operations. Identify the equipment’s critical spares parts availability, pricing and lead times for custom-made parts.
4. Know the most current natural disaster recovery codes and standards.
NFPA 1600 is the overarching standard and primary document on disaster recovery, emergency management and business continuity. NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance, includes a chapter on disaster recovery and emergency response. In addition, the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) has published “Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment” and is working on a guide for “Evaluating Fire- and Heat-Damaged Electrical Equipment.”
5. Know the effects of water damage to electrical equipment.
The best preparation is knowing what to do and what not to do after a disaster. Attempting to restore electrical power to water-damaged equipment can be deadly. Whether the equipment is to be replaced or reconditioned, all services should be performed by qualified personnel familiar with the equipment’s operation and construction.
NEMA Guidelines for Water-Damaged Equipment:
The second half (and most active) part of the Atlantic hurricane season has just begun. Following these emergency preparedness steps can help recovery efforts should your area be in the path of a storm. The 2013 hurricane season came in like a lamb; let’s hope it doesn’t go out like a lion.