Ways to Be Prepared in Case of Building Power Outages
Planning for emergencies in your commercial building is an essential part of good management. One of the most common emergencies to be ready for is power outages. The electricity to your building can be knocked out by storms, by accidents, or by the simple aging and wearing out of equipment. Here are some ways to be prepared for power outages so that your building and its tenants remain safe until the electricity is restored.
- Establish an emergency plan. Develop an emergency plan for occupants and make sure all occupants know what to do in case of power outages. In residential buildings, tenants will most likely stay in their homes. In retail or other commercial buildings, it may be a good idea to establish an evacuation plan and designate an area where occupants can gather during the outage. This area should have emergency lighting, good ventilation, and access to emergency power supplies.
- Install a backup generator. A backup generator can provide enough power to keep activities going in your building even if there is no power available from the local utility. Generators of this type usually run on fuel such as natural gas. They are available in multiple sizes and power capacities to meet the needs of most homes and businesses. Some generators produce enough electricity to power only the most essential functions, while others can power the entire building for extended periods. Talk with your electrical or HVAC professional to determine the type of generator you need.
- Put in emergency lighting. Your building should have emergency lighting that automatically turns on when power to the structure is lost. These lights should be sufficient to illuminate evacuation routes and other important areas of the building. Lighted exit signs should be installed above all exit doors. These signs should be powered by batteries. Put in new batteries every six months, or more frequently if needed.
- Maintain communication. Part of your building’s emergency equipment should include a battery-powered radio or television that allows you to monitor local weather reports or emergency broadcasts. Keep at least one emergency cell phone on hand and check it regularly to ensure it is charged and functional. Make sure your tenants know who to call for help during a power outage or to report a loss of electrical power.
- Protect your electronics. Install surge protectors that can protect computers, phones, photocopiers, printers, and other electronic equipment. The electrical surge that often accompanies the restoration of power can easily damage or destroy sensitive electronics and electrical devices. Connect computers to battery backup systems that ensure the computers will stay on for several minutes after power goes out. This will give you time to save current files and properly shut down the computers without causing damage to the equipment or loss of data.
- Turn off HVAC systems. While the power is out, make sure that HVAC systems and related equipment are turned off at the circuit breaker or at the equipment itself. This will help prevent damage that may occur during a power surge when the local electrical supply is restored.
- Maintain emergency supplies. Keep a stock of emergency supplies such as batteries, flashlights, first aid kits, and essential tools. It may be a good idea to keep some emergency blankets in colder climates. A supply of fresh food and water may also be a good idea in case the power outages are accompanied by circumstances that make it necessary for your tenants to remain in the building for an extended period. A chemical spill, for example, would make it necessary for most people to stay indoors until the spill was cleaned up.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on preparing for power outages in your commercial building, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!
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