Business Safety Tips
Preparing for Power Outages
- Purchase needed items including: flashlights, batteries, AM/FM battery powered radio, rechargeable power failure lights, wind-up or battery alarm clock, and light sticks.
- Have a 72-hour emergency kit for the people you are responsible for in your facility.
- Keep cash and change on hand. In power failures ATMs may not work.
- Phones with answering machines and cordless phones are power dependent. Have at least one phone that does not require power in case you need to call 911. Keep your cell phone powered up.
- Familiarize yourself with your main electrical panel. You may have to turn off the main breaker or reset circuit breakers after an outage.
- Make sure you have smoke detectors in appropriate rooms. Change the batteries regularly, preferably every 6 months, and test them monthly. If your smoke detectors are wired directly into the electrical system of your business, they will not operate during a power failure unless the batteries are working. Special smoke detectors are available for people with hearing impairment.
- Have a fire extinguisher and know how to operate it. Have a fire evacuation plan and practice fire drills.
- During the power outage, unplug all small appliances and electronics to avoid damage from a power surge. Leave one low wattage incandescent light on so you know when the power comes back on.
- When power comes back on, you may have to reset your equipment, including programmable thermostats, burglar and fire alarms.
Using Portable Generators
Portable generators can be hazardous if used improperly. The hazards are carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from the toxic engine exhaust, and electrocution from connecting the generator to the home electrical wiring system.
- Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load.
- Observe the generator manufacturer's instructions for safe operation.
- Do not plug the generator into a wall outlet.
- If connecting the generator into the facility wiring is necessary, have a qualified electrician hook up the standby electrical system or have the local utility install a linking device if available.
- If connecting into the building wiring is necessary on a temporary basis to operate permanently wired equipment, such as a water pump, furnace blower/controls, room lighting, etc., there are important steps that require the utmost care to avoid electrocution. In some locations, the local utility company may offer to install a device at the electric meter socket to permit their customers to connect a portable generator to the household wiring during periods of power outages. If that service is not available or chosen, another method is to have a qualified electrician install a manual transfer switch.
- A transfer switch permits transfer of the load from the building power source that is normally supplied by the electric utility over to the portable generator. The transfer switch should be certified by UL or other independent test lab for this application, and be mounted within an electrical box. Transfer switches and related accessories designed for connecting a standby system are available from electrical supply stores.
- Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator.