Small businesses can be hard hit from power outages. The causes vary from weather extremes to system overload. Either way, your company can sustain losses. By planning ahead of time, you can reduce the damage.
The granddaddy of all outages happened Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1965 in the northeast parts of the U.S. and Canada. New York City was one of the largest metropolitan area affected. More than 30 million people were without power in an area covering 80,000 square miles.
It lasted 13 hours, causing a range of difficulty from mere inconvenience to people trapped in elevators for hours to life threatening situations.
They happen each year in urban, suburban, and rural areas, causing problems for businesses of all sizes.
What Causes Power Outages
Storms cause most power outages, but the reasons vary. Here is a look at the most common problems:
- Heavy winds
- Power system overloads
- Snow storms
- Ice storms
- Hail storms
- Damage to a power pole or other electrical infrastructure
You can’t do much about Mother Nature or a truck driving into a transformer. But you can prepare your business. Ready.gov has a list of tips to help you be prepared.
#1. Put together an emergency kit.
Add in basic items that will keep employees comfortable during an outage, including food, water, light supplies, blankets, extra batteries, and recharging units. You need enough for 72 hours for each person.
Put in toilet paper and buckets for sanitation because the sewage system and toilets probably won’t be working. Think through what you would need when you don’t have access to electricity, gas, water, and sewage. This will help you decide what to include.
#2. Know how to conserve energy.
You need to use as little electricity as possible, assuming it is available. This helps reduce the chance of a rolling blackout in the area.
#3. Have a family plan.
If you are stuck at work, you want to know that your family is safe. Make a plan and build a kit for the people at home too. Arrange how you will communicate and where you will try to meet up.
#4. Put water in the freezer and refrigerator.
If your lunchroom has a refrigerator, take advantage of it. Keep extra plastic bottles of water in both compartments. It keeps food cold and can be used by people in the office.
#5. Keep gas in company cars.
Make sure they have at least a half tank of gas at all times. Gas stations use electricity for pumping gas so they won’t be able to provide it in the event of an outage.
#6. Know how to open electric doors at your office and garage.
Moving around can be difficult if doors snap shut and are opened and closed with electricity. Learn how to use the manual release levers that are available.
#7. Have enough insurance.
Your business can weather a power outage if you prepare in advance. It will keep people safe and reduce the risk of loss.