Understanding and Preparing for Outages
Outages can be unpredictable, but there are things you can do ahead of time to prepare. Make a plan ahead of time and always report your power outage. Although our automated equipment can identify when a feeder or substation is out, it cannot detrmine individual outages. If your power is out and does not come back on after a short delay, check to see if your neighbors are also out. If they have power, check your breaker or fuse box for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. If that does not appear to be the problem, call us and report your outage.
If you see a downed power line, call Delmarva Power immediately. Stay away and keep others away. Assume any downed wire is live and dangerous. After a severe storm, downed power lines hidden by debris or wate, or energized by improperly connected portable generators are serious and potentially fatal hazards.
Preparing for Outages
Make a Plan
Find out about the types of disasters that could affect your business and make a plan ahead of time so you and your employees will know what to do. Decide who will be responsible for key roles such as planning, directing other employees, first aid, operations, shutdown and communications. Define the roles and make sure everyone is trained.
Develop an employee call-out and communication plan, and set up pre-determined meeting places in case you have to evacuate or work off-site. Also, contact your customers and suppliers and share your plans with them in advance.
Collect Information and Review Insurance Coverage
- Collect emergency contact information from your employees, corporate headquarters, your bank, insurance company, utilities and your local emergency response agencies.
- Identify employees with special needs who may need assistance if you must evacuate.
- Review your insurance policies and make a photographic record of your facility, inventory and supplies. Remember, flood damage requires separate insurance coverage. Store the information off-site.
Assemble a Storm Kit
Assemble emergency supplies ahead of time and keep them accessible and secure. Inform all personnel where to find them and assign someone to be responsible for maintaining supplies. If possible, store enough water and non-perishable food for three days in case you have to shelter in place. Include these items:
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Battery-powered radio or TV and extra batteries
- First aid kit, including plastic gloves, garbage bags and any supplies for special needs
- Water and non-perishable food (rotate stock regularly)
- Rescue equipment if you may have to escape through a window that doesn't open. Include a sledgehammer, crow bar, rope, heavy gloves and blankets
- Street map of the area
- Basic tools
- Floor plan of your business marked with emergency shutoffs for gas, electricity, water, controls for security alarm and fire-suppression system
Protect Electronic Equipment
Purchase electronic equipment with built-in protection or a battery powered back-up system. Install surge suppressors on all sensitive electronic equipment, and consider an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that will allow you time to shut down your computers.
If a Storm Approaches
If a major storm is forecast, tune in to NOAA weather stations or local broadcasts for the most recent information. Check your emergency storm kit and replenish supplies as necessary, and instruct your employees that you may need to implement your emergency plan. Also:
- Bring trash cans and outdoor furniture inside, and tie down items you can't bring indoors
- Fill cars and euipment fuel tanks
- Back up computer data, and store the information in a secure off-site location
- Update your employee contact information and review your plan
- Make sure you have cash on hand for business operations since banks, ATMs and stores require electricity to accept credit cards or checks
- Close your business in time to allow employees to prepare their homes or evacuate if so ordered
If you plan to use a portable generator during power outages, here are important safety precautions:
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when using a generator.
- Locate your generator in a well-ventilated area. Never run it inside, even in your garage. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide and the fumes can be deadly. Store gasoline or other flammable liquids outside of living areas in properly marked approved containers. They should also not be stored in a garage if a fuel-burning appliance is located there.
- Plug appliances directly into the generator using heavy-duty, properly grounded extension cords. Make sure extension cords are not frayed or worn.
- Use the generator only when necessary, and don't overload it. Turn it off at night while you sleep and when you are away from home, to avoid possible fire hazard.
- For your safety and the safety of Delmarva Power employees working to restore power, do not connect your generator directly into your home's main fuse box or circuit panel. Improperly connected generators can feed electricity back into the electrical system, endangering field personnel working to restore your power. Consult a qualified electrical contractor if a permanent generator installation is desired.