People across the world view power outages as a minor inconvenience, at businesses it can be much more than that. Don’t believe me? Just look at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. On December 17th, just one week before Christmas (the busiest travel time of the year) Hartsfield-Jackson experienced a power outage. At first they thought the power would come back on soon, as power outages never last too long. Eleven hours, thousands of stranded passengers without food or water and over 1,000 canceled flights later, the airport’s power returned, but not without causing mass chaos. The power outage was the result of a fire in a Georgia Power underground electrical facility and due to the intensity, it damaged both the main system and the back-up system. The cause of the fire is unknown, though Georgia Power stated that a piece of switchgear may have started the fire. It is widely accepted that a commercial electrician service should have been consulted much sooner after the cause of the power outage became apparent. Now, I’m going to assume that Hartsfield-Jackson has a well-designed Emergency Action Plan (EAP) that meets all safety regulations, but this incident goes to show that you need more than that.

Here’s a look at what to implement in your business to help mitigate this type of mass chaos from here on out:

Training for all Employees

Make sure that all staff are trained on how to handle worst-case scenarios, like the Hartsfield-Jackson power outage. As of late, people and businesses get caught up in preventing workplace violence situations and forget that ‘minor’ incidents like a power outage can be detrimental to businesses. Employees who are trained on how to handle long-term power outages can help to not only mitigate stress during the situation, but know exactly how they should respond and the steps that they should take to keep operations running as smoothly as possible for the duration of the blackout.

Open Communication

One of the biggest complaints from passengers was that there was a lack of communication on exactly what was happening. We have all been there: your kid broke something and was trying to avoid telling you that it’s broke, so they slowly roll out the details as needed without actually saying what happened. Then, by the time you are good and mad, they finally come out and say, “Ok, I broke it!” In the end, you would have been a lot less irritated if they had just told you what happened in the first place. This goes for businesses too. Don’t wait to communicate. Be up front and if it doesn’t seem like the power outage is going to be a quick fix, let that be known immediately. This approach will save your business their reputation and that is very important.

An emergency communication system is a great way to send updates to employees on what is happening and the estimated amount of time before the problem gets resolved.

Testing Plans

Make sure that you test your EAP and Business Continuity Plan (BCP) (at least annually) to make sure that during a full blackout or other business disruption, you know exactly how operations are going to work. This should include how staff are going to manage the situation and any visitors or clients in the building at that time. This should also include at what point you are going to start an evacuation and how that process is going to work.

 

To learn more about the trainings offered by Preparis, click here.