Jr. Bankston | 6/9/2005 8:41:48 PM
Electrically powered equipment can be vulnerable to damage from hurricanes, either from electrical surges and outages or from water damage. LSU AgCenter engineering specialist Dr. David Bankston offers some simple steps to minimize or prevent the damage.
"Although electronic equipment may feature some built-in surge protection, that protection is limited," the engineer explains. Since electrical storms often accompany hurricanes, Bankston says the safest action is to disconnect electronic and electrical appliances from electric power. Phone lines, cable and antennas should be disconnected, too.
"While this gives the greatest protection," Bankston says, " it also requires specific action and is not automatic." If you overlook an item or aren't home to make the disconnections, they won't get done. Bankston says the next level of protection is an un-interruptible power supply (UPS) coupled with built-in surge suppressors for both power and signal lines.
A UPS places a battery between the power line and the electronic device (usually a computer), which not only provides a more uniform source of power but also provides power for a few minutes should the utility power be out. "This is a very valuable feature for computers," the engineer says, "because it will give you time to save your work and to shut down the computer properly."
Bankston considers surge protectors the minimum level of protection. They are designed to protect against spikes (high voltages) which could damage equipment. They usually are rated by the voltage they can handle (the higher the better) and by how quickly they can act (the faster the better). "Think of them as an automatic switch which disconnects the appliance when a surge occurs," the specialist says.
Surge suppressors are available for individual appliances, as strips that can handle several appliances and for whole house use. Surge suppressors should be placed on all lines leading to the appliance to be protected.
Flooding also accompanies hurricanes. Bankston says the best protection is elevation above the flood level. "If this is not possible, consider 'bagging' the appliance in a waterproof bag," he recommends. Although specially made bags are available for this purpose, he says large garbage bags or plastic sheeting can work. For example, the appliance may be leaned to one side enough to work the plastic sheeting underneath, then pulled up the sides and secured in place.
"Before placing an appliance back in service after a flood, be sure it has not been flooded or damaged by condensation," the specialist advises, adding, "If it has been, allow it to dry thoroughly and follow manufacturer's guidelines before placing it back in service."
You may find the on-line publications "Living with Hurricanes" and "There's a Hurricane Forming" in the publications section of the LSU AgCenter's website at www.lsuagcenter.com.
For additional information about hurricane protection and cleanup, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.
Source: David Bankston - (225) 578-2229, or Dbankston@agcenter.lsu.edu