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5 Ways to Prepare Your Gas Turbine for Hurricane Season

As many are still reeling from the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, 2017’s hurricane season has continued to produce major storms affecting thousands of people and businesses. Despite weather tracking and warning systems, hurricanes can be unpredictable—if one heads your way, it’s important to know what steps you should take to ensure that your gas turbine can withstand the next hurricane that rolls through. Here are 5 ways you can prepare your facility for a hurricane.

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1. Establish an Emergency Plan

First and foremost, you’ll want to protect one of the most important assets of your facility—your employees. Always follow county guidelines to give your employees plenty of time to evacuate and/or prepare their own homes for an oncoming hurricane.

2. Protect Against Damanges

Three of the most common hurricane-related damages are due to wind damage, tidal surge flooding and freshwater flooding.

To protect your building against wind damage, reinforce overhead doors by adding girts across the back of the door and by strengthening the glider wheel tracks. If an existing overhead door is older, you may want to consider replacing it with a stronger door and tracks. Keep in mind that the larger your overhead door is, the weaker it is against hurricane force winds. You should also board up all windows that are liable to break or shatter.

When it comes to tidal surges and freshwater flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) keeps updated flood maps depicting areas that are vulnerable to tidal surges and freshwater flooding. Determine if your area is liable to a storm surge from these maps and evacuate if necessary. In the days leading up to water moving inland, you can help protect your building with sandbags by placing them around the foundation and near any vents or openings. You can also use aluminum or glass flood panels around your vents.

3. Determine a Data Backup Strategy

Take time to carefully consider what construction equipment you need, and be sure you have it ready and available. When you don’t have the right equipment during an outage, you open yourself up to expensive delays, or worse, injuries from workers using the wrong equipment. Don’t just think about the situations you anticipate happening; consider the unexpected turns your outage could take and prepare for those, too.

4. Train your staff before the outage even begins

Companies and their employees are very dependent on data. As such, it’s extremely important that your company has a backup strategy and solution in the event of a disaster.

To prepare, first designate a Backup Administrator to handle the entire backup strategy, including the backup schedule, recovery tools, network storage, recovery point objectives and more. Then, the Backup Administrator’s primary initial task will be to understand, define and manage the data that needs to be backed up and protected. This person will dictate what your company’s data backup strategy should be and how your business should proceed through the backup.

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5. Compile a List of Vendors/Contractors Who Provide Disaster Recovery Services

After a hurricane rolls through your area, your plant might have significant damage and could be shut down for a period of time.

In order to speed up your building’s recovery, have a list of vendors and contractors on hand who are specialized in providing disaster recovery services—if you lose power or internet, these companies could otherwise be very difficult to find.

Gas Turbine Controls (GTC) is one such vendor; we are pleased to provide GE Speedtronic™ and Excitation control parts and spares for GE Mark systems, Woodward Netcon/Micronet turbines and Bently Nevada 3300/3500 vibration systems.

6. Secure Ammonia Releases

In the event of a hurricane, it’s important to secure your ammonia systems, as uncontrolled releases could be very harmful. One standard operating procedure usually includes pumping down the system and ensuring it is secured. To verify all roof-mounted equipment, inspect pipe stands, condensers, valve groups, and rooftop units.

Most insurance companies have detailed hurricane preparedness manuals and can provide one to you—this can serve as a template for your hurricane preparation checklist.

Good planning and emergency preparedness plans are critical to ensure the safety of your workers and your gas turbine and these 5 tips will help you prepare for the next hurricane that comes your way.

As always, GTC provides testing, repair and field services. If your facility needs expert help or comprehensive support for your power plant, we’re here for you.