Hello RFMA Members,
We here in Dallas have been very lucky so far this summer with no days over 99 degrees. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the US has been treated to brutally hot and dangerous conditions. For some areas of the country, the high heat stressed the power grid beyond its normal capacity creating "brown outs" that lasted anywhere from a few minutes to a couple hours. Additionally, with the powerful storms generated, electrical outages have existed that can last from a few seconds to several days. Are your stores prepared to handle no electricity for several hours or days? Do you know what actions to take to keep your guests, employees and food safe? Following are brief procedures that can be utilized by restaurant managers and facilities personnel to ensure you are prepared when power is lost.
- 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.
- Check other areas of the building for guests and/or employees that may be stuck in restrooms, storage areas, etc.
- Turn off all electrical equipment asap at its source by switching it to off or unplugging it. Don't forget to turn off the A/C'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.
- Report power outage to supervisors and other operational personnel.
- 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 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.
- Note the emergency lighting system normally will last for 1 -2 hours. Ensure flashlights are available for outages that exceed this length of time. Do not use candles as there may be an unknown gas leak.
- 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 reuired. 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. For additional store outage information, check out the Facilities Toolkit under the Resource Library on the RFMA website.
What other items can be included?
Dover and out.
Jeff Dover, CRFP
Facilities Resource Manager | Restaurant Facility Management Association
972-805-0905 ext. 3