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How to Prepare Your Business for a Power Outage

June 24, 2022

How to Prepare Your Business for a Power Outage

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It's a fact of life — power outages happen. For example, in 2020, electricity customers experienced over eight hours of power interruptions on average. To a business owner, a power interruption is more serious than simply sitting in the dark for a few minutes. Lost power can equate to a loss in productivity, customers, and revenue in any industry.

Though you can't stop a storm from knocking down a power line, you can take steps to reduce its impact. Creating an emergency power plan for your business is the first step to minimizing any losses.

Making a backup power plan for your commercial building mostly comes down to preparing your employees and preparing your equipment. We'll show you steps to take before, during and after an outage to protect your workers and your bottom line.

The Importance of Preparing for a Power Outage

Your business needs a power outage plan so you can reduce the effects of electrical failure as much as possible. Power outages can have severe consequences for companies, like downtime and revenue loss. Just a few minutes of downtime can cost some businesses, such as large manufacturers, thousands of dollars. Power outages can also lead to equipment damage, injuries, and customer complaints.

By preparing for an outage, you and your employees will know what to do the next time a strong wind knocks the power out. You can plan actions that will help reduce loss, prevent safety hazards, and get operations up and running quickly once the power is restored.

Power Outage Safety Tips for Businesses

The first thing you need to know is how to keep yourself and your employees safe during a power outage. Here are some general safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Always keep flashlights and new batteries on hand.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed whenever you lose power.
  • Turn off and disconnect all tools, appliances, computers, and equipment that is not connected to a generator during an outage.
  • Do not run a generator indoors.
  • Assume that any downed power line is live.
  • Conserve water supplies until the power is back on.

Ways to Prepare Your Business for a Power Outage

You know why your business needs a backup energy plan, so what's next? First, it's important to tailor your business's backup power plan to your specific industry. For example, consider how a hospital will have different energy needs than a water treatment facility. Once you know your business's unique requirements, think about ways to incorporate the following steps.

Ways to Prepare Your Business for a Power Outage

What to Do Before a Power Outage

Here's how to prepare before you experience power loss:

  • Know where your meters are: Know where the electric meters are located in your building and ensure you can easily access them. Keep a backup light source, such as a flashlight, in the meter room. It also helps to post an electrical diagram to guide whoever is in charge of restoring power.
  • Create an equipment plan: Determine which equipment you'll need to turn off and unplug during outages and which pieces you'll need to leave on. Keep this information in a list and know who will stop, unplug, and restart equipment.
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers handy: Create a list of emergency numbers and keep it accessible. Numbers to write down include your electric company, electricians and key employees.
  • Make an emergency response plan for employees: Write up an emergency response plan and share it with employees so they know what to do in a power outage and steps to take to protect equipment. For example, employees should know where to exit the building if they need to evacuate. They should also understand what their responsibilities are during an outage. Check out this Power Outage Toolkit to help you create a detailed plan.
  • Stock up on critical supplies: Build an emergency kit and include first aid supplies, flashlights, batteries, water, non perishable food, safety gloves, battery-powered radio, and anything else your business might need. Be sure you have enough supplies for each department and managers know how to find these kits easily.
  • Know how your safety systems work without power: Make sure you'll still have working fire protection and security systems during an electrical failure. You can call your system providers to know how things will work during an outage. Also, consider installing devices, like light sources, that can operate on batteries when needed.
  • Use surge protectors: Surge protectors shield electronics and appliances from the powerful rush of electricity when the power's restored. Any equipment that contains sensitive components and plugs into a wall outlet, like a computer, could benefit from a surge protector.
  • Purchase uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units: A UPS is essentially a battery with power outlets, allowing you to plug in electronics and continue using them during an outage. If you want to minimize downtime and ensure you don't lose data, it's worth investing in a UPS.
  • Invest in a generator: If your business doesn't have a backup generator, it's time to invest in one. A backup generator allows you to keep critical equipment like elevators, refrigerators, and medical devices running during a power outage. Once you purchase a generator, learn how to operate and maintain the equipment safely. Also, know who to contact for assistance during an emergency.

What to Do During a Power Outage

The first thing you'll want to do when a power outage occurs is to call your electric utility provider and report the outage. Let them know when the outage happened and if there are any related hazards, like downed power lines. Notifying your electric company can help them quickly identify the issue and restore your power.

If something inside your business is causing the outage, like an overloaded circuit breaker, you'll want to contact an electrician.

Other steps to take during a power outage include unplugging equipment to reduce the risk of damage or injury when the power's restored. Here's what you'll want to do overall:

  • Turn off and disconnect appliances, electronics and equipment that are not connected to your generator or UPS.
  • Turn off circuit breakers to large pieces of equipment.
  • Keep track of when the power outage started.
  • Stay informed.

Last but not least, ensure your employees and customers are safe.

What to Do When Power Is Restored

Once the lights switch back on, you'll likely want to return to work and make up for the lost time. It's important not to jump back in without taking a few steps first:

  • Refer to your generator's user manual to safely shut it down.
  • Turn on essential pieces of machinery to confirm the power is back on, and wait about 15 minutes before using other equipment so you don't overload the system.
  • Turn circuit breakers back on.
  • Check for any damage that may have occurred during the outage.
  • Discard food that went above 40 degrees for over two hours.
  • Evaluate any losses resulting from the outage and review your insurance policies to see if anything's covered.

Benefits of Cat® Backup Generators for Your Business

With a backup generator, you can keep your doors open and customers happy if the power goes out. However, not all generators are built with the same level of dependability. Take it a step further and invest in a brand you can trust, like Caterpillar. Caterpillar is known for manufacturing reliable equipment, including backup generators for various industries.

You can expect a Cat® generator to be:

  • Constructed of long-lasting materials and advanced technology
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Covered by a comprehensive warranty
  • A dependable backup source

Caterpillar offers several generators, including diesel-powered generators and portable generators.

Buy Your Cat Generator from a Trusted Dealer

Whatever your backup power needs are, we can help you find a solution at Blanchard Energy. As South Carolina's only Cat dealer, we're proud to offer reliable generators from the leading industrial equipment manufacturer. We're also pleased to provide assistance from our expert technicians, who will maintain and repair your equipment whenever you need a hand.

Contact us online for your backup power system needs or call us at 844.252.6242. You can also visit us at one of our several locations.

Buy Your Cat Generator from a Trusted Dealer

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3151 Charleston Hwy
West Columbia, SC 29172

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