Power Outages: Tips and Resources for Businesses

Power Outages: Residential

For More Information:

MID Energy Services
(209) 526-7339
or toll-free
(800) 304-5373.

 

The Modesto Irrigation District (MID ) provides the following basic tips to help you minimize disruption of your business if there is a power outage. This material is intended to be a starting point, not a complete list of precautionary measures.

MID has an excellent reliability record, but despite our best efforts some power outages will happen.

Power outages can be caused by a number of things, including bad weather, trees coming in contact with electric lines or equipment, motor vehicle accidents, equipment failure, animals and vandalism. Events through the western United States can also affect the MID electric system. Faulty wiring and equipment inside your business can cause a localized outage.

Put together an Emergncy Kit and include:

  • Portable radio and fresh batteries
  • Flashlights and fresh batteries
    Flashlights are a safer choice than candles.
  • Phone with a cord
    Cordless telephones don't work when the power is off.

If your electricity goes off

  • Look to see if your neighbors are also without power.
  • If everyone else has power, check your fuse box or service panel to determine if the problem is internal.
  • Call the MID at (209) 526-8222 or toll-free (888) 897-8222 to report the location of the power outage.
  • Turn to a local station on your battery-operated radio. If the power outage is extensive or there are rotating outages, there will be announcements on local stations.

Power outages affect many kinds of equipment

Today, businesses depend on many kinds of equipment that rely on electricity, including some you may not have thought about. Computers, certain telephone systems, cash registers, some smoke alarms, security systems and elevators are just a few of the items that may not work during a power outage.

You are responsible for protecting your electronic equipment with appropriate surge devices. Install surge suppressors or uninterruptable power supply on computers and related equipment. Larger businesses should station emergency kits at several key locations.

Protect sensitive equipment and data

  • Protect computers and related equipment such as printers or modems, PBX systems, and other electronic equipment with surge suppressors and uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs). If power goes out, a UPS provides battery power at a constant voltage for several minutes, allowing you to safely turn off equipment with minimal risk of data loss.
  • Ask your vendors about specific limitations of your equipment. Find out how long it would take to repair or replace damaged equipment.
  • During an outage, turn off all electronic equipment. This will help prevent or minimize damage from a possible over voltage condition when power is restored.
  • Back up critical data often, making partial backups weekly or daily and complete backups on a regular schedule. Store backup copies in a secure, fireproof location off-site.
  • Contact your key software vendors to make sure they have backup files available.
  • Make a list of vital telephone numbers, including key customers, vendors and business partners. Keep it updated and store copies off-site.

Plan How to Communicate During a Power Outage

  • Don't rely on cordless phones, answering machines, or phones connected to answering machines—all need electricity to operate. Keep at least one non-electrically powered telephone.
  • PBX equipment will lose dial tone unless you have backup capability. Customers using Centrex service may not lose telephone service during a power outage. Contact your telecommunications provider for advice and assistance.
  • Give key staff cellular phones, two-way radios and/or pagers. Remind them to keep batteries charged.

Plan for Employee Safety

  • If your workplace does not have natural light, store battery-powered flashlights in convenient locations, or install battery-powered exit lights that turn on automatically if power goes out.
  • Have a facility evacuation plan, and make sure all employees know about it.
  • Review safe shutdown procedures for industrial equipment and train your employees.

    Cal-OSHA
    Heat advisory for employers:

    English (36KB, PDF)
    Spanish (33KB, PDF)
      Cal-OSHA
    Protect yourself
    :
    English (143KB, PDF)
    Spanish (128KB, PDF)

Develop a disaster recovery plan

A disaster recovery plan should address the natural and man-made disasters most likely to affect your business. Such a plan can involve many elements. For example, you may want to identify an alternate location where business could be continued temporarily. A review of your insurance coverage may be in order.

Small Business Administration web site has general disaster preparedness tips for businesses. Discusses facilities, buildings and equipment; operational considerations; critical data and communications; and insurance. (http://www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance/disasterpreparedness/)

Is it an ordinary outage or a rotating outage?

If lights go out, it’s most likely just a power outage. Call MID’s 24-hour operations center (209) 526-8222 (toll free: 1-888-897-8222) to report the location and circumstances of the power outage. The line may be busy due to a large volume of calls.

If it is a rotating outage, word of the emergency will probably spread quickly via cell phones. As soon as possible, MID will contact local radio stations and post information on the MID web site, www.mid.org. Turn on your portable radio or
call a friend who’s not in the same block number. Ask the friend to listen to a local radio or television station, or check the MID web site.

Employers: Discuss emergency preparations with all employees.

Important Cautions About Backup Electrical Generators

If not properly installed, generators can send electricity back through dead power lines and be dangerous to a MID crew member. If a generator is in operation, customers need to make certain that no electricity is flowing back into MID lines.

According to the California Health and Safety Code, you are responsible for any injuries or damage to your property, your neighbor's property or MID's property from an improperly installed or improperly operated generator.
Portable generator safety tips

  • Read all operating instructions and manufacturer warnings before using the equipment. If the information is unclear, contact the manufacturer or dealer.
  • Connect only those appliances needed during an outage directly into the generator.
  • MID does not recommend installing a generator directly into home or building wiring. However, if you must connect a generator directly into a wall outlet, turn off the power to your home or business by turning the main disconnect switch (breaker) to the "off" position. This keeps energy from feeding back into MID lines.
  • If using a permanent standby generator for business or personal purposes, an approved transfer switch is required to keep your generator from back feeding into MID's system. The generator installation and operation must conform to MID's interconnection requirements. Also, your city or county building department must inspect the installation.
  • Never use gas-powered generators indoors or in an enclosed area.
  • Never operate a generator while standing in water.
  • Install smoke alarms and test them monthly
  • Install surge suppressors or uninterruptable power supply on computers and related equipment.

Build a disaster supplies kit and include:

  • First aid items
  • Food
  • Water
  • Medications
  • Personal Items

Learn about preventing injuries and attend a safety clinic or first aid class.

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Modesto Irrigation District
1231 11th Street, Modesto
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(209) 526-7373

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Modesto, CA 95352-4060

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