The government has ruled out the possibility of power cuts this winter as a response to the growing energy crisis in Europe. But the National Grid has suggested a possible worst-case scenario where bad weather and low fuel supplies snowball to make planned power cuts over a predefined period a necessity.
It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared. We spoke to Nigel Glen, Executive Chair of The Property Institute, for his advice on how you can prepare your buildings for power cuts, so you won’t be caught off-guard.
This is part 1 of our blog series on preparing for power cuts. Read part 2 on practical advice for your occupiers here.
Preparing for the worst-case scenario
Take a moment to think about your building. Which systems will be affected by blackouts? Could a loss of power cause damage to your water, electricity, heating or alarms? If your gates rely on electricity, will occupiers be locked inside, or will open doors let absolutely anybody in?
Nigel told us that before planned power cuts are even confirmed, you should consult your insurers: “After assessing your building’s safety systems, report your findings to your insurers. For example, many smoke alarms are tripped by power outages–if yours are, that’s something your insurer should know about your building.”
Other building systems may not be functioning. Lifts will be out of service, so take steps to reduce the chance of occupiers being trapped by disabling lifts before the outage and putting up signs warning not to use them. Buildings with electronic locks and CCTV systems are more vulnerable to intruders during blackouts. “Look into hiring more security for entrances and patrolling,” Nigel said. “Remember, it could get very dark, so equip them with torches and walkie-talkies.”
Emergency lights should still function during a blackout as they are connected to an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS), which collects spare electricity throughout the day and releases it during blackouts. Nigel suggested investing in larger UPS units to power your whole building. “According to the National Grid, power cuts shouldn’t last longer than 3 hours. A UPS will release energy to tide you over until grid power returns. Other alternative power sources include solar panels with battery storage, which are also better for the environment than fossil fuels. What’s great about these is they’ll save you money on bills in the long run, too.”
However, the most important step when preparing for power cuts is keeping your occupiers in the loop. As soon as you know when an outage is going to happen, send out an email, text or letter to inform your occupiers when the power cut will begin and end, to give them the chance to prepare.
We’ve created a power cut preparation checklist that you can send to your occupiers. Read part 2 of our series on blackouts and download the checklist here.
How can Fixflo help?
Our software allows you to send SMS and email notifications to your occupiers, so you can notify everyone if there will be a blackout. Notifications can be replied to, giving everyone a streamlined way to stay in touch.
You can even book a free demo to find out exactly how we provide a safety net for when things go wrong.
When the blackout comes
When the lights go out, you need to be prepared for any possible emergency. Make sure nobody is trapped inside lifts or in areas of the building where manual locks are used as fail-safes for electronic ones.
Nigel told us: “Keep an eye out for emails, phone calls or other communications from your occupiers. They’ll have access to pre-charged mobile phones, so may still be able to contact you in case of an emergency.”
How can Fixflo help?
We’ve recently updated our occupier reporting tool, giving it a clearer and more mobile-friendly interface as well as transforming issue reporting into a fast, 3-step system for occupiers. If there’s an emergency during a blackout, you’ll know about it quicker than ever.
Set up Co-pilot to control automated notifications for emergency issues. If something goes wrong in your building, you can rest assured that it will be automatically handled according to your settings, and you’ll be notified if anything escalates.
When the lights are back on, it’s not over just yet
Once the power returns, various systems throughout your buildings may need resetting: CCTV systems, gates, boilers, fire alarms, and other temperamental hardware may take some coaxing to start working again. Nigel advised making a list of things to check after a power cut so that you don’t miss anything, as well as sending an email or text to your occupiers to let them know the power is back on. Many occupiers will know immediately, but those who aren’t aware will appreciate being informed.
“Do a test run now to make sure you haven’t missed anything that could cause problems when the real outage comes. A little preparation ahead of time could save you a major headache later.” - Nigel Glen
How can Fixflo help?
Our cloud-based system gives you the peace of mind that nothing will be lost during blackouts. You can access your building and estate profiles from any device, giving you the power to stay in the loop even when there’s a power cut.