Keeping Properties Safe in the Event of a Power Outage
For those in property management, a power outage isn’t just a personal annoyance. It can have large-scale and sometimes even dangerous implications. If a power outage occurs on your site, these are the safety items you must pay attention to.
Have you ever been in the middle of cooking dinner and suddenly the power went out? That can be frustrating, especially if you have an electric stove. Or how about settling down after a long day at work to watch your favorite TV show and then everything goes dark? That is disappointing. What if you just want to take a nice hot shower, but the power is out, and your water heater is electric? Hopefully there is enough hot water in the tank, or you might be taking a polar bear plunge instead.
We have all experienced a power outage at some point in our lives. If not, chances are we will. While they prove to be anything from a mild to a major inconvenience, one thing you never want them to be is life-threatening.
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How can a power outage be dangerous?
The short answer is: any time a life-saving device’s functionality is compromised, a power outage is very dangerous.
Think about it- most all the security and alarm systems available today are based on technology that requires some source of power to operate. On a tenant level, some people literally need power to help them breathe (think bi-pap or c-pap machines). The loss of lighting can prove dangerous and lead to injuries as well.
Losing power can be uncomfortable, or even dangerous during extreme temperatures. During excessive heat, there is a risk of hyperthermia conditions such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion. In areas that experience periods of freezing temperatures, hypothermia and frostbite can even become a concern. Infants and the elderly are particularly susceptible.
According to Westar Energy, power outages are caused by anything from equipment damage or malfunction, to inclement weather and wildlife (poor, unsuspecting squirrels and birds). Any time an energy system or power grid is under heavy use, they can become overloaded and fail. Since emergency situations can be caused by some of these same factors, the power could be out just when it is needed the most.
What can be done to prepare for/prevent a power outage?
With so many variables surrounding power outages, property preparation is key. Having an action plan in place in the event of any emergency is important. Things like a designated meeting area, knowing where flashlights and batteries are stored and ensuring a reliable means of communication to call for help are all crucial to maintain composure and safety during a potentially frightening situation.
Prevention is tricky, as in some cases the loss of power is unavoidable, but there are a few practical measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood a power failure will occur. For example, one of the most common causes of a power outage is overgrown trees that damage or interfere with power lines. This is easily avoided by regularly keeping an eye on tree growth and trimming branches before they become an issue. It is also important to be mindful of energy consumption. Ensuring that all lights, tools, appliances and devices that are not in use are powered off will reduce the load on the electrical system. Having a professional inspection done of all electrical boxes, wiring and connection points can help catch loose connections or corrosive damage that make your property a ticking time bomb for an energy failure.
What to do during a power outage
According to ready.gov, freezers and refrigerators should remain closed as much as possible. This will prevent food from spoiling. Backup generators should be set up outside and away from any windows to keep fumes from compromising air quality. A gas stove should never be used to heat up a building, as filling a room with gas presents its own dangers. Having a backup plan for refrigerated items, such as instant ice packs and ice chests, is important as well.
How Kings III prepares for power outages
Our emergency telephone systems are ready in the event of a power failure on your property. There are two solutions possible with our equipment:
- If our handsfree phones are in place, they are tied back to a dialer device that powers the entire system. Attached to the dialer is a backup battery that takes over in the event of a power failure. Our dialer has a built-in charging circuit to ensure the backup battery is recharged between use.
- We also offer a device called the Safecall 3000 that is powered by the voltage present on a dedicated phone line. That means it is completely unaffected by a power outage. As long as the attached phone line is active and intact all the way to our Safecall device, it will remain powered, as phone lines run independently of the electrical systems.
Our preventative measures do not stop there. Our equipment runs a self-check on the voltage of the backup battery at regular intervals. If the test reveals a low voltage on the battery, a report is generated for us to contact you with the following options for replacement: we can either ship a new battery directly to you or a service call can be scheduled for a technician to replace it and do preventative maintenance checks while on site.
We also offer a separate, optional auto test feature. With this feature, our equipment will check in with us every thirty days to let us know that it still has an active dial tone and power. In the event a check-in is not received, a report is generated, and we will contact you to troubleshoot and/or schedule a technician to come out if needed. While the auto test feature does not replace the need for regular, monthly manual testing by your onsite personal to verify full microphone and speaker functionality, this feature works in conjunction to ensure all issues are identified as quickly as possible.
What if we have an onsite power outage? Just in the way your building is not always immune to power outages, we know ours isn’t either. When you answer emergency calls, even a couple minutes of outage is too many. Because we are in the life safety business, our doors never close and our phones are always on. Emergency battery systems and generators support the EDC in the event of power outages. Two separate, redundant monitoring facilities are maintained for use in the event of a major catastrophe or a simple unexpected outage. The primary and redundant sites are located on separate telephone and power grids.
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