Off-Grid Lighting and DC Systems for Performance During and After a Disaster

Up and until now there were no good lighting solutions that could survive a shock, vibration or prolonged periods of being in high humidity environments or submerged in water, yet fully functional once the adverse conditions subside.

Conventional Lighting

Conventional lighting often use metal-halide or some form of mercury laden bulb or tube technology that can easily break due to vibration, concussion or shock. As a result conventional lighting is more likely to be not available in an emergency in addition adding insult to injury poisoning the environment, humans and animals nearby with unhealthy amounts of mercury. Conventional lighting requires larger generators or grid power to operate.

LED Lighting designed for Emergencies and Disasters

State-of-the-art LED lighting can offer a real alternative as the best performing technology during disasters. When designed appropriately, certain LED lighting fixtures lend themselves to be more robust light fixtures outperforming any conventional lighting technology, during and after a disaster.

Unlike any other conventional lighting technology, LED light sources that are appropriately protected, do not suffer from vibration, power fluctuations or humidity. They are able to start immediately at extreme temperatures from -55°C (-56°F) to +60°C ambient temperatures.

As LED light sources are generally driven by low voltage power drivers they lend themselves to be driven from DC power sources like batteries, solar panels or wind mills in addition to being driven from grid power or conventional generators. Due to their much lower power consumption they can provide adequate lighting for a longer period when driven from emergency power sources like generators or batteries.

LED lighting systems can be designed so that they do not lose any light-output with use nor do they change their correlated color temperature (CRI). Although, many main stream lighting brands design for obsolescence, some less mainstream players do provide 10 year warranties on their drivers and guaranteed light output without restrictions, those will be the best lighting fixtures to use for emergency and disaster proof lighting.

Of course quality products that are made from better heat transporting materials are more expensive to make, yet their return of investment (ROI) is normally better than a conventional built-to-fail and therefore cheap lighting product. The better ROI is also due to the high cost of identifying, monitoring and replacing failed lighting bulbs or fixtures which obviously is not required for a lasting and highly reliable light fixtures.

Most importantly in a disaster or after energy sources may be scarce, LED lighting designed for the purpose can run four times longer from a generator producing the same light output of conventional technology. Conventional technology is not suitable to be run off batteries while LED technology can be run with 5 times the efficiency compared to conventional lighting that is run from batteries.

Conclusion

Until a better and even safer way to produce light more efficiently comes along, one can make the now reasonable assumption that LED lighting will be the lighting technology for some time to come.It makes sense to invest into the higher performance LED lighting which saves between 15% and 50% more energy compared to its cheaper and disposable LED equivalent and will perform significantly better during and after a disaster than any other conventional lighting.

Small Business Is Hard Enough: The Challenges of a Small Business After a Disaster

Disasters, I know we all hate that word. As humans we gird ourselves and simply say, “It won’t happen to me”. But the data shows that it’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s when is it going to happen.

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), 40% to 60% of small businesses fail following a major disaster. The number of presidentially declared disasters has more than doubled in recent years. However, many disasters don’t affect a large number of people like these declared events do. In fact, fire is the leading business disaster.

If that is not bad enough, researchers estimate that approximately: half of business do not survive their first 5 years and 8 out of 10 fail within the first 3 years after a disaster.*

Small Businesses have unique challenges that are quite different from their larger counterpart. Since 52 % of businesses are operated from the owner’s home or property their ability to recover is harder simply because they have to focus to two recovery efforts. There is never enough time to get them both done quickly and easily. If their business is in their home, there is no place for the work to continue. The property damage for a small business owner impacts BOTH the family and their business.

While owning a small business may seem like the American Dream, owning a small business has many challenges. But after a disaster the challenges become more profound. There seems to be recurring views of these owners both before and after the disaster.

Here are 7 challenges Small Business Owners face after a disaster:

1. Illusion of Security

2. Nothing could be done to protect against this

3. Complete 360-degree disaster for the individual

4. Self-imposed limits

5. Imprudent use of financial resources

6. Not understanding what is happening to their customer base

7. Assumption everything will get back to normal

Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. The largest challenge for small business owner is planning.

Small business owners invest a tremendous amount of time, money and resources to make their ventures successful, yet, many owners fail to properly plan and prepare for disaster situations. You can protect your business by identifying the risks associated with natural and man-made disasters, and by creating a plan for action should a disaster strike. By keeping those plans updated, you can help ensure the survival of your business.

When disaster strikes, having a plan and being able to put it into immediate action can mean the difference between staying open to service the needs of your customers and community or shutting down for a few days.

I know, not another plan! Who has time for that?

Resilience is different from preparedness. Where preparedness is something that you do; resilience is something that you become. In becoming more resilient, you as the owner should take intentional action. Do one thing today. (Just one thing). Do you back up your data? No, then get that done. Do you have an emergency contact list for your employees, suppliers, major clients? No, then get that done. Do you review you insurance policy every year with your agent? No, then get that done. Little by little, doing one thing moves you closer.

You’ve finally achieved your dream. Don’t lose it to a power outage, hacker disruption, fire, earthquake or other disaster. If you’re not prepared, a disaster could put you and your employees at risk, possibly shutting down your business forever.

Small Business With No Emergency Preparedness Plan? You’re Heading for Disaster

The word “Disaster” immediately brings to mind violence – of a hurricane or flood or earthquake. It’s only on second thought that the actual impact of a disaster – no matter what its cause – becomes clear.

When disaster hits a small business with no emergency survival plan, the chances are it will mean total shut-down of the business – and job loss for everyone involved.

Even when a plan is in place, it may be missing a key component: being prepared to handle the employees’ concern for the safety and well-being of their loved ones.

This concern is so strong that often even the most senior staff members — with major responsibility for mission critical functions – have been known to abandon the business altogether, struggling to get home to save family from imagined chaos or danger.

With key personnel gone, even though the building is still standing, the result can be the same – total shut-down.

Is there a solution?

After a career of working with small (and larger) businesses, and the past 15 years helping build and lead a local neighborhood emergency preparedness team, we think there IS a solution.

In our opinion, the ideal solution is the coordination or even “integration” of communities. This can be achieved when…

  • Company management, staff and employees have all been Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) trained.
  • The company has built its emergency preparedness plan around the CERT model and these specially-trained employees.
  • All employees’ family members have been encouraged or even supported in getting the same CERT training.

The ideal extension of this concept would be for each of the employee’s residential neighborhoods to also become CERT-trained communities – which we must acknowledge is an unlikely possibility.

Nevertheless the mere fact of knowing their families are prepared for major emergencies would enable employees to remain at their work stations longer, helping the company take immediate steps to protect important data and equipment to preserve the business – and their income.

It’s a win/win if it can be accomplished. And even if only part of the solution can be implemented, the company will be in a better place to withstand or even prevent business interruption.

It all starts with emergency preparedness plans for neighborhood and/or business. Such plans are NOT difficult to develop given the many resources available from government sources and dedicated authors. But there’s urgency to getting started now:

  1. Emergencies can and do happen. Without a plan, they can turn into disasters.
  2. Your planning has to take place BEFORE the emergency strikes.

New and inexpensive tools to make the process easy are available. Don’t wait any longer to get started!