BlogBefore, During, and After a Power Outage in Your Lab

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It is important to remember that some equipment cannot be turned off and certain other pieces of equipment do not shut themselves off when there is a power outage. Pre-plan specific procedures for your laboratory while adhering to the following when dealing with possible power outages:

Before the Power Fails

  1. Designate an emergency contact person for your lab. This person should be available for contact 24 hours a day.
    • Give the contact's information to your Area Safety Coordinator.
    • Post emergency contact phone numbers on the lab safety sign in the hallway outside your lab.
  2. Equip your emergency/spill kit with a battery powered flashlight.
  3. Do not leave open chemicals in the fume hood when the fume hood is unattended. Always safely store chemicals after use.
  4. Put essential equipment on emergency power circuits. These circuits have red cover plates and are powered by an emergency generator at each lab building.
    • Install appropriately-sized surge protection devices for all sensitive or expensive electronics.
    • Install an uninterruptible power source (ups) or other backup electrical systems or equipment if needed.
  5. Make a list of equipment that must be reset, reprogrammed, restarted, or recalibrated once power returns.
    • Post the list in a conspicuous place.
    • Program equipment that operates unattended to shut down safely during a power failure and not restart automatically when power returns.
  6. Identify an emergency source of dry ice, if you have items that must be kept cold.
    • Note: Refrigerators and freezers will maintain their temperature for several hours if they are not opened.
    • Do not use dry ice in walk-in refrigerators or other confined areas.

While the Power is Off

  1. Shut down experiments that involve hazardous materials.
    • Make sure experiments are stable and won't create uncontrolled hazards.
  2. Check fume hoods and biosafety cabinets and take the following precautions, if applicable:
    • Stop any operations that may be emitting hazardous vapors, fumes, or infectious agents.
    • Securely cap any open containers.
    • Close fume hood and biosafety cabinet sashes.
  3. Check equipment on emergency power to ensure it's running properly.
    • Note: It may take 20 to 30 seconds for emergency power to activate after a power failure.
  4. Reduce electrical use and risk of power surges by:
    • Disconnecting from emergency outlets equipment that runs unattended, and
    • Turning off unnecessary lights and equipment.
  5. Transfer vulnerable items from cold rooms and refrigerators that have lost power to equipment served by emergency power.

When the Power Returns

  1. Shut down experiments that involve hazardous materials.
    • Make sure experiments are stable and won't create uncontrolled hazards.
  2. Check fume hoods and biosafety cabinets and take the following precautions, if applicable:
    • Stop any operations that may be emitting hazardous vapors, fumes, or infectious agents.
    • Securely cap any open containers.
    • Close fume hood and biosafety cabinet sashes.
  3. Check equipment on emergency power to ensure it's running properly.
    • Note: It may take 20 to 30 seconds for emergency power to activate after a power failure.
  4. Reduce electrical use and risk of power surges by:
    • Disconnecting from emergency outlets equipment that runs unattended, and
    • Turning off unnecessary lights and equipment.
  5. Transfer vulnerable items from cold rooms and refrigerators that have lost power to equipment served by emergency power.

For more information about what E-Control Systems can do for your lab take a look at our Life Science solutions.

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