Power Outage Preparation Tips
Power outages can strike when you least expect them. They can also be devastating to your business’s bottom line if you aren’t adequately prepared. According to a market research study by E Source, a four-hour outage will cost the average business $10,000 to $20,000.
Business owners that take the right precautions can drastically reduce these costs. Here are some steps you should take to protect your business against power loss.
Begin with a Risk Analysis
While developing a business continuity plan, you must begin by identifying the potential problems a power outage will cause. Your business continuity plan must account for:
- Loss of functionality of important equipment
- Surge damage
- Employee confusion
- Disruption to customers
- Safety risks
These risks are unique to every business. Outline them in detail, so you can take the necessary precautions.
Train Employees to Use Your Generator Safely
A power generator can keep your business functioning during an outage. However, your employees need to be trained to use the generator safely. Here are some things they should be aware of:
- Only responsible employees that have been trained to use the generator will be allowed to access it.
- The generator can only be used in well-ventilated areas, because it produces dangerous fumes.
- Extension cords must be properly grounded and be in good condition.
- Manufacturer guidelines must be followed carefully.
After training an employee, make sure to have these guidelines listed clearly near the generator, so they can be easily referenced.
Have an Emergency Kit on Hand
Always have an emergency kit in case of a power outage. This kit should include:
- Battery operated, portable radios
- Magnetic flashlights
- Battery operated power torches
- Weather proof bags
- Emergency medical kits
Your emergency supplies should be kept in an accessible place, where they won’t be damaged if your business is flooded.
Install Surge Protectors
Backup power supplies don’t offer much value if your equipment is damaged during an outage. A power surge can cause a sudden peak in operating voltage, which can cause circuit boards and other electrical components to overheat.
Equipping your electronic devices with surge protectors minimizes the risk. Look for surge protectors that can absorb at least 6-700 joules. Surge protectors lose effectiveness over time, so replace them every two years.
Have a Safety Contingency Plan in Place
A temporary power outage may not be your biggest concern. The cause of the power outage may pose a danger to your employees and customers. Everyone at your facility needs to be warned of the possibility of down powerlines. A fallen line can transmit power over 30 feet on dry ground. If the ground is wet, it can transmit even further.
Make sure you have a contingency plan in place, which involves determining the cause of the outage and any danger in the immediate vicinity before evacuating or giving directions to anyone leaving your facility.
Establish the Conditions of Operation
Employees and customers need to know whether a business will stay open. Your backup power supply may be sufficient to maintain operations for a couple of days. However, you will probably need to cut unnecessary tasks that consume excessive electricity. You may need to shut down the organization if certain equipment fails to operate or you run out of fuel for your backup generator.
Your business continuity plan must list the conditions in which the business will need to shut down.
Purchase Adequate Insurance
You need insurance that will cover any losses that occur during a power outage. This is particularly important for restaurants that store large volumes of perishable foods that need to be frozen. If your backup generator fails, you can lose hundreds or thousands of dollars in inventory. It should also cover electrical devices if your surge protectors fail.
Read the terms of your policy carefully. It may stipulate your responsibilities to ensure your assets are protected, such as the minimal power of your backup supply and the types of surge protectors you need.