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How To Prepare for a Power Outage

Power outages are not only inconvenient for businesses, but also potentially dangerous to employees. Being prepared for an outage will keep your workplace safe. Specific guidelines will vary with each workplace, but these general precautions are a good place to start:

Emergency kit

An emergency kit should be part of any office, but it is especially helpful during a power outage. Stock your kit with flashlights, batteries, a portable radio, a first aid kit, several gallons of water and nonperishable foods such as granola bars.

Food safety

Avoid opening refrigerators and freezers in break rooms or kitchens, which lets out cold air. Throw away food items that become warmer than 41 F, or anything that you are in doubt about keeping.

Extreme temperatures

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion and hypothermia are very possible threats during a power outage when temperatures are extreme. When temperatures are high, keep everyone hydrated and avoid caffeine and alcohol, which dehydrate the body. Employees should be watched closely for any signs of heat stroke such as red, dry skin, a throbbing headache or dizziness. During extreme cold, hypothermia can occur if the core body temperature drops below 95 F. Both this condition and heat stroke require immediate medical attention. Find further precautions for extreme heat and extreme cold on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Electrical hazards and power recovery

Avoid machinery and power lines during a power outage as they might function erratically or be damaged. Also, if any power lines have fallen outside the workplace, do not touch the lines or even approach the area. If a power line falls on your vehicle while you are inside, do not exit unless the vehicle catches on fire. Keep in mind that hazards don’t disappear once the power is back on. As power lines are reactivated and equipment resumes operating, employees need to remain cautious if they are in close proximity to power lines, moving parts of machinery or other electrical elements.

Make a plan

One of the best ways to prepare for a power outage is to have an emergency plan in place. This guide should outline safe areas and hazards to avoid (such as stairwells) if the power goes out, reducing the risk of falls, one of the most common workplace injuries.