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Power Outages

Posted By Jeff Dover, CRFP, RFMA, Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Hello RFMA members,

With the recent winter storms that effected a good portion of the country, did any of your restaurants lose power? With extremely cold weather, snow, freezing rain, and high winds, there's a good chance the electric will be knocked out for periods as short as a few seconds to several days. Are your stores ready to handle this for the time required? Do they know what actions to take, who to call, and how to keep the guests and employees safe? Following are procedures that can be utilized to ensure your restaurants are prepared when power goes down.

- Employee and guest safety is always the first priority. If storms are powerful, take shelter in an interior safe room, like the restrooms or even the walk in's. When weather permits, get everyone out of the building.

- Turn off all electrical equipment asap at its source by switching it to off or unplugging it. Don't forget to turn off the hvac's and hood exhaust and make up air fans. Ensure electrical breakers are marked accordingly for each piece of equipment and switch those off too.

- Keep on several interior lights to know when power is restored.

- Report power outage to supervisors and other operational personnel. Check in your Disaster Management Plan handbook, if applicable.

- Determine if electric is out for your restaurant and/or the surrounding areas by checking with neighboring establishments.

- Contact the local utility to report outage and, if possible, get details on when they expect power to be restored.

- Keep all refrigeration equipment and walk in doors shut. Do not open unless absolutely necessary.

- Put lids on all topping stations.

- If using generators, make sure they have proper ventilation.

- If using a gas or wood burning fireplace, ensure there is a functioning carbon monoxide detector in the room(s) affected.

- If possible check on the establishments nearby to see if they need assistance or if they could assist you.

- If electric is scheduled to be out for longer than 3-4 hours, transfer food from the walk in's to other stores in the area if possible. Ensure internal food temperature has not exceeded the health code requirements. Contact your supervisor for discussions.

- When power has returned, go the the electrical panel and turn on equipment slowly, one at a time over several minutes which will decrease the electrical surge that will occur when power is restored. This will minimize the kilowatt demand charge.

- Go to the individual pieces of equipment and slowly turn then on or plug them in, one at a time. Wait a few minutes between each.

- Reset all time clocks accordingly.

This is a general list of action items for a power outage. Each restaurant will have additional items needed. If not done so already in the store's disaster management plan binder, I recommend summarizing this on one page and have it handy for restaurant operations.

What other items have I missed?

Dover and out.

Tags:  carbon monoxide poisoning  disaster plan  electric outage  Power outage 

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