Brownouts And Blackouts – Is Your Business Prepared?


Unexpected power failure at work can cause major inconveniences — including lost work hours, lost files, and damaged equipment. Did you know, however, that there are different categories of power outage?

Understanding the differences between each form will allow you to better prepare for them in your business, ensuring your team’s optimum safety and comfort in any eventuality.

Types Of Power Outage

Power outages can be broken down into the following five categories:

Intentional Brownouts

When power systems are experiencing unusually high demand, utility providers will limit power flow to counterbalance this excess strain on the system.

While lighting and heat are likely to remain intact (though lights may flicker), more sensitive appliances — generally machinery with motors — may shutdown and even be damaged due to the fluctuating voltage.

Unexpected Brownouts

During periods of poor weather, lights may flicker, and appliances may quickly turn off and on. Similarly, some appliances may receive damage.

Rolling Blackouts

Rolling blackouts are also organized by electric companies to alleviate stressors on a strained electric grid, consequentially mitigating the potential for a more significant problem.

These blackouts are usually announced (though at short notice)and last for a fixed time. Providers roll them out over different zones for short periods. 

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Unexpected Blackouts

These large-scale blackouts occur after an unexpected incident, like an extreme storm.

They can last for an unlimited period and can wreak havoc, disrupting communications, banks, medical equipment, transportation and more.

Planned Outages

These are scheduled by utility providers in advance so that the providers can update and upgrade systems.

Residents and business owners are forewarned about the impending inconvenience. They’re often scheduled during hours when they’ll cause minimal disruption.

Preparing For A Blackout

As you can see, power outages vary in their level of severity and the degree of disruption caused. 

Preparing for an unexpected blackout— which could last for an extended period— is crucial. Here are just a few preparedness measures you can adopt.

Stock Up On Tools And Supplies

Keep flashlights, well-stocked First Aid kits, and bottles of water at hand. Further, consider investing in Evacuscape evacuation chairs.

These clever — and potentially lifesaving — devices allow for the safe and efficient evacuation of disabled persons, the elderly, pregnant persons, and others who are mobility-impaired in the event of an emergency where power has gone, rendering elevators immobile.

Have A Plan

Have a comprehensive emergency plan so that team members know how to respond and the role they will play.

A plan may include maps, identify emergency exits, and include the contact information of relevant personnel. 

A thorough and well-rehearsed plan can make all the difference during an emergency.

A successful strategy will empower team members to act calmly and quickly, and it can even prevent damage to machinery and equipment.

In addition to your emergency plan, take the time to schedule regular training for team members so that everyone understands their role and who to turn to should an unexpected blackout occur.

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Check Emergency Response Systems

Since most fire and carbon monoxide detectors are hardwired into a building’s electrics, they, too, may switch off when the power goes out.

In anticipation of this, invest in alarms with batteries as a backup. In addition, make sure to test the batteries on fire and carbon detectors every month.

Further, consider investing in sprinklers and emergency exit signs that hold batteries as a second power source.

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Consistently Back Up Files

To prevent lost records and files during a blackout, make regular backups of data, databases, and systems mandatory for all team members.

Not only can routine backups keep important documents secure during a blackout, but theyare also beneficial in the event of a computer virus, cyber-attack, human error, or erroneous system failures.

Have Infrastructure In Place For Remote Work

Should the blackout last for multiple days, when possible, have a contingency plan in place that will enable team members to work comfortably from home.

This may mean establishing and setting up communication channels and providing the appropriate technologies. 

Preparing For A Brownout

Brownouts also require advanced preparation, though the measures are not as in-depth as the preparations you should make in advance of an unexpected blackout.

Surge protectors and uninterrupted power supplies can protect some pieces of machinery from elevated spikes in electricity that can jolt equipment. Both of these systems may prove beneficial in blackout situations, too.

Also, a generator will keep team members comfortable during short power disruptions (such as brownouts).Generators don’t rely on powerlines and can continue to provide power during temporary disruptions.


Different power outages require a different response. While some are simply a case of waiting until the power goes back on, other power outages — like unexpected blackouts — can last for quite some time, requiring team members to leave the building. 

By preparing in advance and understanding how to respond, you’re protecting your business while leading the way for your team — making them feel safe, secure, and properly taken care of.

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