What To Do During a Power Outage

If you are at work and the power goes out, it can be frustrating to have your workday interrupted. But outages can cause more serious problems than just being unable to finish an invoice or get a power saw operating.

Outages Are More Than Inconvenient

Think of the 50 million people in the New York area who were without power in the blackout of 2003, which also affected parts of the Midwest and other states in the northeastern part of the country.

The blackout started at 4:10 p.m. when many people were still at work. Some power was restored by 11 p.m., making it an extremely long workday for nine-to-fivers. But many people had to endure two full days without power.

This one was caused by a software glitch in an alarm system at an energy company in Ohio, far from the actual outage. Most areas lost water pressure, wreaking havoc with sanitation systems. At least 10 people died as a direct result of the power failure.

The lesson isn’t  necessarily to be afraid. Instead it is to take the potential danger and damage seriously. Prepare now by learning what to do during an outage that affects your business.

Expert Advice

Ready.gov has a list of tips for managing during an outage. Here are some of their recommendations. It is smart to check the entire list of guidelines on their website.

  • Use flashlights but never candles.
  • Disconnect equipment powered by electricity, including air conditioners and heaters if possible. When the electricity comes back on, it can cause a power surge that might damage the appliances.
  • Never run a generator in an enclosed space where people are.
  • When using a generator, connect the devices you want to run to the generator directly.
  • Get up-to-date information from your local emergency radio station using a battery- or hand-operated model.
  • Don’t call 9-1-1 for updates about the outage. Use it only to report life-threatening emergencies.
  • Rely on your emergency kit for basics for staff.
  • Never touch a power line. Report it to the utility company.

Stay calm and safe during the outage. Read, listen to radio, sleep and use food and water from your emergency kit. Hopefully it will come on soon, but you should be prepared to weather the storm for 72 hours.

For peace of mind, carry the right amount of business insurance. Talk to your agent to see if business interruption insurance or spoilage coverage is a good choice for your company.