Take note of our expert tips to keep your care site running through a crisis.

If there’s one thing medical facilities do well, it’s preparing for negative outcomes. Hospitals, clinics, and other care centers stay on alert. They know patients require round-the-clock monitoring to ensure they’re doing well. Something could go wrong at any moment with serious healthcare consequences, so preparedness is essential.

The prepared healthcare facility takes that proactive, preventative attitude one step further by applying it to their electrical systems. Those circuit boards and wires need ongoing care, too! We’ve assembled this checklist so your facility be confidently prepared the next time a disaster hits.

Key takeaways:

  • Disasters can have devastating consequences on healthcare facilities
  • Healthcare electrical systems require expert electrical assessment to ensure compliance and performance
  • Disaster preparation may require repairs, replacements, or refits

How disasters impact healthcare electrical systems

Disasters of various kinds can strike year-round without warning. These can interfere with equipment and processes, and potentially create life or death situations. Severe tornadoes, hurricanes, or storms can cause many power problems:

  • Downed power lines
  • Causing power surges (such as by lightning strikes), which can damage or destroy sensitive electrical equipment
  • Driving flood water into utility supply zones or a healthcare facility’s external power supplies
  • Seawater may flood inland, and salt erodes electrical components even after the water has evaporated

Fires are another potential disaster which can localize entirely within your facility. It only takes a spark to cause trouble from frazzled wiring to full-scale, devastating blazes. Read our earlier blog on workplace electrical safety for best practices to minimize this risk.  

Disasters are a big reason why preparing electrical systems is a crucial part of your emergency operations plan (EOP). An EOP is an essential strategy for action that every healthcare facility must have to comply with the Joint Commission’s emergency management standards.

Why thinking beyond your site matters

Beyond basic onsite preparation and compliance, healthcare providers must also consider how a disaster’s impact on the wider community relates directly to their site’s electricity. Care centers not only must help their current patients in these scenarios, but they may also manage an influx of new ones because the number of people hurt or injured increases during disasters.

If this happens, it will increase electrical power demand. It’s therefore vital to have a reserve to meet peak demand with energy to spare. You’ll be prepared to meet surges in power consumption and provide enhanced reliable service.

Power strategies to prepare healthcare electrical systems

First, know what a compliant EOP requires from your electrical equipment in a disaster. For example, under the Joint Commission’s EC.02.05.01 (which manages risks associated with electrical systems) your facility must:

  • Have utilities designed and installed to meet operational needs and patient care
  • Have all utility system controls clearly labeled for partial or emergency shutdown
  • Monitor air changes, air pressure, and air filtration in critical care areas like operating rooms

Fire preparedness is another essential requirement under Joint Commission Emergency Standards EC 02.03.05, and prevention is a big part of preparedness. Tools like visual strobe alerts, audio fire alarms, and hard-wired smoke detectors all combat fire, and all depend on a solid supply of electrical power. Without proper installation and maintenance, these life-saving warning systems can become useless.

A comprehensive disaster strategy should take all these factors into account, but healthcare facilities can’t make it happen alone. They must team electrical experts experienced in the healthcare sector.

How UES can get you disaster-prepared

We first assess your site and peak power requirements, then help you forecast beyond current peak power to be able to maintain reserves in the event of disasters.

If necessary, we can design and implement electrical systems that match those needs, such as by  installing commercial generators for backup power. We can help you choose the right model based on your site’s square footage, full-load current measurements, and more.

We can also:

  • Label system controls for quick and safe shutdown or isolation of affected systems to prevent further disaster damage and possible dangers
  • Recommend and install surge protection devices and uninterruptible power supplies to provide valuable time to safely shut down sensitive systems
  • Assess your HVAC system for necessary repairs, replacements, or even a refit to bring your air quality up to Joint Commission standards

Educating our customers is also part of our mission (it’s why we write these blogs!) so our team will be sure to:

  • Alert you to any fire, shock, or electrocution hazards currently onsite
  • Provide ongoing checks, tests, and maintenance
  • Discuss in-depth the electrical concerns particular to healthcare facilities so your staff can play their valuable part in always keeping people and processes safe, not just during disasters

Should evacuation be necessary due to disasters like a fire, understand the right way to react during electrical emergencies, such as how to evacuate safely and how to assess onsite effects.

Of course, healthcare environments default to “defending in place” during fires, so evacuation of patients and staff is not the first response. Instead, reliance on the hospital’s fire defenses takes precedence. This makes it even more important that the contained environment of your healthcare facility responds to disasters efficiently and reliably.

Let UES help you get disaster-ready

We can help you safely and effectively follow strict regulatory requirements and electrical codes so your healthcare facility minimizes performance risk, improves its disaster defenses, and strengthens operational continuity.

Our decades of experience have healthcare at their core. UES has specialized in this area since our founding 25 years ago, so you can contact us with confidence for expert assistance or a free quote!