Here’s how businesses can prepare for power interruptions and hazards by taking steps to minimize potentially hazardous electrical events.
- Electrical emergencies include power outages or combustion events
- Failure to prepare can jeopardize business personnel, processes, and premises
- An evacuation plan combined with best practices and a reliable electrician are your best lines of defense
Commercial electrical emergencies tend to have three common traits: confusion, panic, and danger. Where are the fire extinguishers? What’s the escape route? Who’s in charge? Who do we call? Not knowing the answers can trigger scary situations that could leave people injured or even killed.
Universal Electrical Services specializes in handling emergency service calls. We rapidly assess situations and gain control quickly. Here’s a quick guide to managing electrical emergencies through proactive planning, regular safety checks, and responsible maintenance.
The initial response to an electrical emergency
The right first response depends on identifying the nature and severity of an electrical emergency. For example, recognizing and resolving a power outage may be as simple as watching lights and computers flicker and fade out, then contacting your utility provider and asking when power will be restored.
Extended outages may require evacuating the premises when functions essential to basic wellbeing, such as air conditioning, may be offline for an extended period. Evacuations must always be executed safely; make sure everyone is proceeding carefully, and exercise caution when using stairwells, which may require flashlights to navigate.
As with fires, elevators should never be used in an electrical emergency; people could become trapped. Appoint a staff member to take charge in emergencies and avoid conflicting commands. Also, have a designated assembly spot so that everyone can be counted.
OSHA covers every step of creating an emergency evacuation plan. It should be visually clear, easy to understand, and account for the mobility of everyone inside. Keep copies in every room of your business and run drills regularly – twice a year for most facilities, and quarterly for high rises and other buildings will difficult egress, as well as those that house flammable materials.
Further assessing the situation
Sometimes, getting to the root of a commercial building’s electrical emergency isn’t possible for untrained staff. Your personal safety must always take priority over diagnosing the problem. The smoke, flames, and sparks of a large electrical fire are often your cue to call 911 and step aside. Let first responders assess and contain the situation and treat any injuries.
Facility managers may be able to assess and handle minor electrical fires in very small areas with the proper extinguishers. They are available in five classes (A, B, C, D, and K); class C is required for stopping blazes caused by active electrical equipment. These extinguishers contain carbon dioxide or Halon 1211, both of which are non-conductive and douse electrical flames without spreading them. Every business should have a Class C extinguisher near electrical equipment, and employees should be familiar with how they work.
It’s advisable to turn off or disconnect power in case of electrical fire but again, only if it’s safe to do so! Never get too close to a smoking, sparking, or fiery power source. Even small-scale fires a business’s facilities team can contain in-house should be followed by immediately calling electrical professionals.
When experiencing a power loss or fluctuation, contact your local utility provider first. This will verify whether yours is the only site reporting problems, or if the trouble is being caused by larger grid issues. It may also establish timeframe for deciding if evacuation is necessary.
Professional assessment and repair
Why something lost power or combusted isn’t always clear, nor is it always necessary to dial 911. That’s where electricians help. It’s our role to diagnose and repair the root cause of the emergency. It’s also our job to assist when it would be too dangerous for amateurs to attempt. Even a seemingly harmless electrical outlet may pose serious risks that only a trained eye can recognize.
It’s easy to reach us quickly. Call our emergency line at 954-792-5444, ext. 32, and we’ll take it from there. Businesses can take temporary measures to minimize damage and disruption until we arrive. Avoid power sources, exposed wiring, or anything hot to the touch, and remove items like furniture or equipment that may impede the electrician’s ability to work. Remember, only take these steps if they can be done safely!
Prevention and preparedness minimize future emergencies
The impact of an electrical emergency can be mitigated when businesses take preventative steps. Installing a commercial power generator is an essential measure. It must be big enough to handle all your site’s power needs in the event of an outage while providing extra power, just in case. It’s comforting to know that your lights, equipment, and heating/cooling systems will keep running even during a grid outage.
A qualified electrician can assess your site and recommend which size generator should be installed. Choosing the right commercial generator requires defining your site’s interior square footage, how much power essential processes require, and positioning the generator in the optimal exterior spot.
Installing power surge protectors will shield your electrical equipment against the sudden energy influx that can come before and/or after an outage. These protect sensitive hardware and may prevent electrical fires. Surge protectors can be fitted onto most electrical outlets, and some power strips come with standard surge protection. It’s a good idea to fit a Type 2 surge protector to your site’s main service panel to reduce strain on outlet and strip protectors.
Generators and surge protectors must receive safety checks and regular maintenance. Qualified electricians can provide both, so you’ll only have to replace protection when absolutely necessary. Most importantly, you’ll stay compliant with local power regulations.
Let UES help you prepare for emergencies
Nothing beats the peace of mind of knowing how to respond in an emergency, and having a reliable electrical partner. We’re here today to help you confidently face tomorrow’s power problems. Contact us for a free quote!