Electricity drives most of the necessities and conveniences in our homes and offices. You never know when a natural disaster or a man-made one will disrupt our everyday routine. Disasters may come when we least expect them. It is best to be prepared. On this page you will find general safety tips and information to help you prepare for and cope with sudden loss of power or an electrical blackout.
What can you do to be prepared for an unplanned power outage?
- Prepare a contingency plan. Is all data backed up frequently enough? What actions will you need to take if power is lost or equipment stops working?
- Plan with Facilities and Services well in advance if you have critical power issues.
- Plug equipment needed during a prolonged power outage into emergency power outlet.
- Use surge protectors on computer systems and other surge-sensitive equipment.
- Use an uninterruptable power supply for equipment, which will not tolerate any power loss, even if it is short duration.
- Purchase and install alarms that notify you of a power loss or equipment malfunction on critical systems and equipment.
- Back up data frequently and save often for work in progress.
- Establish procedures to continue critical functions if power is lost.
- Do you have a plan to mitigate losses during a power outage?
- Do you have a back up freezer arrangement for critical frozen specimens?
- Do you have a plan to continue critical functions, if power is out for an hour? For a day?
- Budget electrical back up items into your research or program budget proposals.
- Request an electrical audit for critical electrical systems.
What can you do to be prepared for rolling power outages?
- Avoid experiments, which could be affected by 60 minute repeated power outages.
- Turn off equipment sensitive to power failure or a shut off / restart cycle.
- Do not overload emergency circuits by adding additional equipment.
- Inform your staff of the possible loss of power so they are prepared and remain calm.
- Take note of the location of stairwells and avoid use of elevators in buildings subject to rolling blackouts.
- Keep a flashlight and batteries in key locations throughout your work areas. Most cell phones will offer temporary illumination by activating the key pad.
- Dress comfortably in consideration of loss of indoor temperature control.
If a power outage occurs in your building:
- Remain calm.
- Turn off electronic equipment and appliances, including sensitive laboratory/research units.
- Laboratory personnel should secure all experiments; turn off all gases; store chemicals in original locations; close all fume hood sashes; avoid opening cold storage or cryogenic equipment.
- Use flashlights and cell phone for emergency light source. Avoid use of any type of open flame.
- If instructed to evacuate, proceed to nearest exit and assist persons with disabilities or notify emergency responders.
- If you are on an elevator when power outage occurs, remain calm and press the emergency button and/or telephone to alert NMSU Police. Follow directions from responding NMSU Police and Facilities and Services personnel.
- After the power loss, check all equipment to make sure everything restarted properly
- Notify your building manager or Facilities and Services Work Control at 646-7114 of any equipment that does not turn back on – a circuit breaker may need to be reset. Then, request an electrical change to spread the power load to more circuits.
The Centers for Disease Control website offers additional tips to prepare and cope with a sudden loss of power that may last for an extended length of time.