A member of the Community Emergency Response Team assists an injured woman
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Empowering Your Business or Organization for Power Outages

August 2019

Even if you aren’t in school anymore, fall can feel like a time for new beginnings. As mindsets shift away from summer vacation, it’s a natural time to start planning for the future. It’s a great time to review your own preparedness and become aware of resources that may help you. Some states are more prone to hurricanes, while others experience more winter storms. Some emergencies, like power outages, can happen anywhere at any time of year. FEMA’s Ready Business toolkits can help you prepare for things that may affect your area. Power outages can be caused by high winds, flooding, or local infrastructure issues, like overwhelmed power grids or fires. Outages can range from temporary and inconvenient to dangerous and disruptive, especially as time goes on. Outages during temperature extremes can put people at risk of excessive heat or cold in their homes. They can also limit options for food and lead to spoilage, which can hurt tight family budgets in the communities you may serve. Community-based organizations help people who are affected the most by the cascading effects of a power outage. Being prepared for one not only helps you stay in business, but also helps the people who depend on you.
At home, you might have extra flashlights and batteries. You might even have a generator if you’re used to losing power. But what should you think about when you’re getting an organization prepared for a power outage? The Ready Business Power Outage Toolkit is a good place to start. A 2014 report by Climate Central stated that 44 percent of power outages are caused by storm events, so it can be difficult to predict! But it can be very costly and can impact your staff as well as your customers or clients. Prepare now for a potential power outage. Start by taking an inventory of everything your business or organization has that requires energy. Think about what you can do without in the short term, and what is essential for operations. Make a list of alternatives and consider if you need a generator. Be sure to follow generator safety tips, like using generators outdoors. Don’t forget about communications! While landline phones may still work in a power outage, phone lines and cell service could be knocked out as well. Many voice systems run over internet lines, which will not work without electricity. And of course, your computer and internet access will be affected. Remember to include back-ups for communication into your plans, like texting or group messaging services. Texting during a disaster also keeps phone lines open for first responders. You’ll also want a have a plan in place in the event of a power outage. How will you communicate with your staff? Should staff come in on a regular schedule? Will you be able to provide any services? Do you have any perishable goods to manage? And can you communicate with people who depend on your services? A plan can help you think through these questions and more. Taking the time to prepare now and practice your plan can bring peace of mind to you, your staff, and your community members. Start with the Ready Business Power Outage Toolkit. This article first appeared in the monthly Individual and Community Preparedness Newsletter. Subscribe here.