Written by: James Ponds
Electrical outages are unfortunate situations that most people will encounter at some point in their lives, either at home or at work. It's important to be prepared for them, but it can be more difficult to keep things running during an outage at a business than at home. Here are six tips for preparing for a power outage in your work facilities.
1. Install Backup and Alternative Energy Sources
One of the best things you can do to prepare for a potential power outage is to invest in backup energy sources, alternative energy sources or both. Generators are one of the traditional options, and can be quickly set up and hooked up if a power outage occurs. Generators work best for smaller workplaces, and even then should only be used to power essential systems. If you use green energy, such as solar power, you can include a solar battery in your system as a backup energy source. An uninterruptible power supply is useful to install in computer systems because it can provide several extra minutes of power you can use to safely shut down equipment when a power outage is detected.
2. Create a Preparedness Plan
A preparedness plan for outages is as essential as fire and natural disaster preparedness plans. Your workplace outage preparedness plan should include surge protection and fire, carbon monoxide and smoke alarm maintenance. It should also include check-in information and meeting places for employees. Make sure employees know who to contact, how to do so and when they should shelter in place or leave the building in the event of a power outage.
3. Prevent Power Overloads And Other Hazards
Keep a list of all appliances, devices, systems and equipment that would be at risk of damage or causing fire hazards during a power outage. Put together a plan to safely shut down, unplug and disengage all such devices in the event of an outage. You should also have a supply of flashlights, batteries and portable chargers in your workplace to distribute in case of an outage. Plan to hire an electrician if you suspect any damage to your electrical systems or wiring.
4. Make Sure You Can Monitor News and Alerts
Most people have smartphones that they can use to check the news and weather, monitor alerts and contact people. You should designate several people to sign up for text or email alerts from your utility company regarding planned and unexpected outages. However, remember that phone batteries can run down quickly, especially during an emergency. Aside from alternative ways to charge phones, make sure you also have alternative ways to monitor news, weather reports and other alerts, such as a portable radio
5. Invest in Alternative Heating and Cooling Tools
Depending on where you live, you may experience a power outage during relatively extreme weather or temperatures. Many weather-related power outages in the United States, for example, occur during thunderstorms. This can be an issue because the majority of workplaces utilize various types of indoor climate control. You should be prepared with alternative heating methods, cooling methods or both, depending on the general climate of your area. Propane heaters and battery-powered fans are both popular choices, but make sure you only use propane heaters in spaces with good ventilation. Another good method is to keep a good supply of blankets and bottled water.
6. Stock Up On Essential Items and Food
Aside from blankets and water, you should also keep a supply of essential items and food, just in case your employees and visitors can't safely leave your facilities. Stock nonperishable items that don't necessarily need to be heated or cooked to be consumed. Make sure you also have a supply of sanitary items, such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper, paper towels and tampons.
During a power outage at your work facilities, always put the safety and security of employees and visitors first. Once people's immediate needs are met, work can be done to divert backup power to your systems as needed.