Is your business prepared for public safety power shutoffs?
California’s “Big 3” power utility companies have instituted a plan to cut power during moments of extreme weather or high fire risk. This means businesses across the state are at risk of going without electricity for days or weeks at a time. The purpose of this policy is to reduce the risk of wildfires, but the shutoffs will pose new challenges of their own.
To keep your business, employees, and customers safe, here are a few key things to consider so you’re prepared for public safety power shutoffs.
Offset potential downtime by having a backup generator installed
A surprising number of businesses lack a backup generator. Many of them believe they can’t justify the cost of having one installed. But when you stop and consider the problems that can arise from a power outage, it doesn’t make any sense not to have one. Grocery stores and restaurants rely on products to make money, many of which need to stay cold. If the power is out for more than 4 hours, all those cold products get tossed. There are also computer and security risks that arise when the power shuts off. Having an independent source of power that you can rely on will keep your business running longer. This will also put you in higher demand during an outage.
Stay connected with a cellular internet backup
When the power goes out, this can affect internet service in your area as well. Even if you have a backup generator your Internet Service Provider may not be able to supply you with an active network. Thankfully, there are cellular internet backups available. Rather than connecting through DSL or digital cable lines, a cellular backup connects to nearby cell towers. Your business can stay connected and open despite the blackout.
Protect computers and sensitive data devices with surge protectors and UPS systems
Nearly every business relies on computers to perform daily tasks and store important information. When the power shuts off it can sometimes cause a surge in the power outlets. Power outages and power surges are one of the top 6 most common reasons for data loss or corruption. Every computer should have a surge protector, but a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) system can be even more helpful. A UPS acts as a surge protector and a backup battery for your computer. In a complete blackout situation, a UPS will give you time to save your work and shut down your computer properly.
Ensure you’re using the right locks on the right doors.
Electronic locks come in two kinds: fail-safe and fail-secure. A fail-safe lock will automatically unlock when the power goes out. They will prevent people from getting locked in or locked out during a power outage. We typically recommend installing a fail-safe lock on emergency exit doors and front doors. The last thing you want is for people to get locked inside a building during a power outage. Fail-secure locks can be useful for back doors and side doors that are not intended as emergency exits. When the power goes out they will remain locked.
Ensure computers, camera systems, and POS devices are being backed up to prevent data loss
In a similar fashion to having a UPS system on computers, it’s also crucial to have data backups whenever possible. Should a surge protector or UPS fail to do its job, a data backup will guarantee that no major losses occur. Recent statistics show that 70% of small businesses can go out of business within a year of suffering a large data loss.
Train your staff on proper procedures for handling power outages
Now that power outages are going to be inevitable, it’s important to take the time to provide training to employees. Have a plan in place for how employees will handle transactions and customers. Decide if you want them to lock up and clock out, or if there are other productive tasks they can perform until the power comes back on. It’s important to have a plan in place now so that everyone will know what to expect.
Have emergency lights installed to keep dark areas well-lit
Although there will be advance warnings before public safety power shutoffs, not everyone can control where they are when the lights go out. Installing emergency lights that run on a battery backup will keep common areas such as bathrooms and break rooms lit up. This will give employees and customers the proper light they need to find an exit. Some emergency lights install into a light fixture, while others plug into an outlet.
Keep emergency flashlights in accessible locations
While training your staff on proper procedures, make sure emergency flashlights are in accessible locations. Break rooms, desk drawers, or behind front counters are some good locations. Depending on how much natural light your business gets from windows or doors, your employees may need flashlights to help guide customers out of the store and ensure that rooms are empty before locking up.
Power Your Business
Book a complimentary consultation to speak with one of our power specialists about keeping the power on in your business during California’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs.