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September 3, 2017 | Rob Hirschberg

Backup Power Bloopers: What NOT to Do in an Emergency Power Situation

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It happens to all of us – a glitch in the system, a bad storm, faulty wires – a number of things can lead to a power outage emergency in the workplace. In the digital era, power outages can cause significant issues, and they always seem to happen at the worst time! When the power goes out, business owners risk losing important data, exposing sensitive information, and having to start all over. Don’t let something as annoying as a power outage make you close your business’s doors. Stay prepared with these tips on what not to do.

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1. Fail to Prep Your Workplace 

“Expect the best, prepare for the worst”. This variation of Murphy’s Law is a motto business owners should take to heart when it comes to power outages. Most business operators deal with failing batteries, faulty power equipment, electricity surges, and complete power outages at some point or another. Preparing for the worst possible power outage can protect your company from extensive damage, and embarrassing explanations. Here are a few preparation tips:

  • Stock an emergency preparedness kit. Keep a kit on hand with a flashlight, batteries, first aid supplies, alternative charging devices, and a radio. Candles aren’t a good option, as they can start fires. When the power does come back on, you want to be sure the building is still there!

  • Track the weather. This is one situation where it’s wise to listen to the weatherman. Download a weather alert app to get advanced notifications of any upcoming storms in your area. Take weather warnings seriously, and prepare your building, your technology, and your employees for serious storms.

  • Have a plan. Create a plan for you and your employees to follow in the event of a power outage. Your plan should include how to properly shut down equipment, communicate, and evacuate in an emergency. Teamwork always beats being confused in the dark.

The more prepared you are for a power outage, the less damage it will do to your company. Prepare your business on all levels – safeguard your data, store documents in the cloud, and ready your staff for emergency measures. Being prepared can also prevent widespread panic in a power loss situation. Your business will look like the smartest if you actually have a system in place while everyone else is fishing for excuses.  On the contrary, if a competitor is more prepared than you are, it’ll be tough to explain your predicament to non-local clients.

2. Ignore Employee Safety

Safeguarding your electronics is important on a business level, but your employees’ safety should always come first. Before a power outage, create an emergency plan that focuses on employee safety. Remember it’s not just the data you have to protect. A slip and fall in the dark can really put you in a bad place, and you’d be surprised how clumsy people can really be. Have emergency lighting from a battery-operated source to prevent total darkness in the facility. No lights can lead to confusion and personal injuries. Establish a safe location on your property for employees to assemble after a power outage. This might be somewhere as simple as a conference room or a more elaborate shelter, if you’re in a location that experiences severe weather. Keep employees in the know about your emergency plan at all times.

3. Get Stuck Without Backup Power

One of the best ways to prep for a power outage is by investing in backup power systems. This is especially important if the technological side of your business is a major component in your brand’s success or if your company deals with sensitive customer information. Power outages can expose your company to security breaches without the proper backup power. There are plenty of products and services available to provide businesses with backup power in the event of an outage. Invest in battery systems, DC power systems, uninterruptable power supply systems, generators, surge protectors, and safety equipment to safeguard your company from disaster without power.

4. Misuse Your Generator

Generators can be great for providing backup power, but they can also be dangerous when used improperly. Generators can put users at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in enclosed spaces. This can lead to serious illness and death. Lack of proper generator maintenance including checking your generator-starting batteries, is the number one reason for generator failure in the event of a power outage. Read your generator’s safety and instruction manuals for more information. Remember, when the power goes out, people panic, and fail to make the “brightest” decisions.  Nothing is too obvious to mention.

5. Neglect Your Equipment

Your power will likely fail at the least convenient moment; the same pattern tends to follow for related equipment.  For each piece of electrical equipment at your company, you need to develop a written maintenance program. Routine maintenance will prepare your equipment as much as possible for surges and power outages. Post electrical diagrams in meter rooms to help those restoring your power. Create a list of equipment you will have to reset in the event of an outage. Keep your phones, security system, and fire-protection devices well maintained at all times. Develop controlled shutdown plans for delicate equipment. Have the contact information of your backup power provider or electrical contractor on hand. You may breathe a sigh of relief when the power comes back on, but if your equipment isn’t working properly all of the sudden, that celebration will be short lived.

6. Work With the Wrong Provider

All backup power companies are not created equal.  The health of your company after a power outage can hinge on the abilities of your backup power provider. Low-quality protection equipment can offer little to no protection during an emergency, leading to problems with your systems when the power returns. Find a provider with ample experience, positive customer reviews, and a history of success for businesses in your industry.  Also, ask for a maintenance schedule.

At Alpine Power Systems, our backup power solutions offer something for everyone. We can provide the ideal product for a number of systems, including EnerSys, Vertiv, EnviroGuard, Northstar, and Kohler. Our clients consist of large manufacturing facilities, data centers, telecommunications plants, and other critical facilities. If you can’t afford downtime during a power outage, come to us for effective solutions. We provide support you can count on.


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