Safety

Learn how to keep your lights on in a disaster!

Hospital Safety Insider, September 17, 2015

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Hospital Safety Insider!

For most of us, a prolonged power outage is at worst a major nuisance. For hospitals, it's quite another story. Without power, a hospital can't provide the life support that many of its patients need.

By design, necessity, and regulatory oversight, hospital facilities are required to have generators and other emergency contingencies in place. Yet as the folks in the greater New York area will tell you after their experiences with Superstorm Sandy in 2012, that's easier said than done. Many facilities that had emergency generators in place as well as emergency fuel stores still lost their power due to flooded basements and supply vendors that couldn't get to the facilities to help keep them going.

FEMA produced a 170-page book, Emergency Power Systems for Critical Facilities: A Best Practices Approach to Improving Reliability, also known as FEMA P-1019 in the industry, written to prepare hospitals to face the same challenges that facilities in the New York area faced; it deals solely with electrical power requirements and how to keep them operational during natural disasters that are most likely to knock out utilities, such as a flood or an earthquake.

One of the biggest issues that hospitals in the New York area dealt with during Sandy was closed roads, which prevented trucks from getting through to resupply hospital generators with fuel and oil. As a result, some hospitals have begun constructing seemingly excessive contingency plans, such as parking tanker trucks in their parking lots during weather disasters or signing agreements with fuel stations that allow them to take ownership of the station's reserves should there be an emergency need.

FEMA's P-1019 guidelines also cover new construction considerations and offer advice to facilities looking to build with emergency contingencies in mind. As always, it starts with knowing what hazards are likely to strike your area. When the Northridge earthquake of 1994 struck California, the upper floors of a hospital collapsed, literally spilling the generator out of the side of the building. Similarly, hospitals in flood-prone areas should take their specific geographic location into account when weighing design considerations.

This is an excerpt from the monthly hospital safety resource Briefings on Hospital Safety. Subscribers can read the rest of the article here. Non-subscribers can find out more about the journal, its benefits, and how to subscribe by clicking here.

 



Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to Hospital Safety Insider!

    Hospital Safety Center
  • Hospital Safety Center

    Improve compliance with hospital safety standards from The Joint Commission, OSHA, and other regulators with this...

  • Healthcare Life Safety Compliance

    Created exclusively for healthcare facility managers, plant operations professionals, and directors of engineering, this...

  • Hospital Safety Insider

    Stay on top of hospital safety requirements and best practices with our free, fast-paced weekly update.

  • Basic OSHA Compliance Manual Kit

    Total compliance has never been easier. This one convenient package contains everything you need to ensure your outpatient...

  • Basic Dental OSHA Compliance Manual Kit

    Total compliance has never been easier. This one convenient package contains everything you need to ensure your dental...

Most Popular