By Amanda Lollar
For a rescue facility, the importance of a back-up system in the event of a power failure cannot be underestimated. The back-up system we had in our previous location consisted of wearing headlamps to work, then cleaning the enclosures and preparing food in near darkness until the power was restored. Normally the power only went off for a couple of hours at the most, however, one memorable summer the power went out for over 18 hours during orphan season. Orphans require temperatures of 95 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. With no power the incubator could not work, however, with no air conditioning the building stayed at a comfortable (for them) 100°F so they were quite cozy. The orphans also needed round-the-clock feedings of warmed milk formula, which was impossible to heat in an all electric facility. I improvised and heated their formula over the open flame of an old-fashioned oil lamp, which worked wonderfully. However, feeding the babies under the light of a headlamp proved challenging because it was so heavy from perspiration that it kept slipping over my eyes.
In the event the power failed during the winter, we had two large indoor kerosene heaters capable of heating the entire building. The heaters were critical because fruit bats cannot withstand cold temperatures, in fact, temperatures below 40°F can be fatal to fruit bats.
Thankfully, in our previous location the power rarely went out, however, in our new location it appears to be a regular occurrence with every storm that passes through. The fact that we are on a small hill makes matters worse, because twice last year the snow and ice made it impossible for power trucks (or anyone else) to drive up the hill. On top of that, our new facility is much larger than the old one, so it a is huge inconvenience to not be able to do the daily wash of the 25 sheets that line the floor of the fruit bat enclosure, much the panic that sets in over potential food spoilage.
It has always been our goal to one-day have a back-up generator in place. We thought it would take much longer to reach this goal, but thankfully, with the help of some very special donors, we did not have to wait. In January our generators were installed. This wonderful piece of security automatically kicks on in the event of a power failure and it will run for an extended period of time in the event of a total black-out. We opted for two smaller generators rather than one large one, which was less expensive and also saves on propane as only one generator kicks on at a time. When more power is needed, the 2nd generator then kicks on.
A very special thank you to the donors who made this happen for the bats as well as the staff who takes care of their needs. There are not enough words for the appreciation and relief we feel to finally have a generator in place. A special thank you as well to David Allen at Circle A Electric, Knight Propane and Chavez Fencing for the great work you provided as well as the discounts you gave to our nonprofit organization. We are almost looking forward to the next storm that passes through. 😉