Power Outage

A power outage may seem like a relatively routine emergency situation, but loss of electricity can present a range of serious hazards and challenges on a university campus. From laboratories with critical research functions to dormitories that house hundreds of students, a sudden power outage can present major risks to safety and wellness. The following information is intended as a guide for UConn students, faculty, staff, and visitors to both prepare in advance for outages and to respond appropriately if they occur.

Before a Power Outage

  • Sign up for UConn Alerts.
  • Make a Plan.
    • Prepare an internal communications plan to notify affected personnel about workday and after-hours emergencies, and your department’s response.
    • Be sure your plan includes backup power for anyone who depends on electric-powered, life-sustaining equipment.
  • Make an Emergency Kit.
  • Ensure that your computer files are backed up to the network drive.
  • Download a flashlight app on your phone or keep a flashlight with batteries readily available.
  • Consider buying extra batteries.
  • Consider purchasing a power converter if you use a laptop computer.
  • Turn off all computers, monitors, printers, and other electronic devices when they are not in use.
  • Ensure you know at least two ways out of your building, whether your building is equipped with a generator, and whether there is emergency lighting in your area.
  • Do not overload power strips.

Special Considerations for Laboratories

In the anticipation of a power outage:

  • Develop a log of equipment that must be reset, restarted, or that requires special attention following an outage.
  • Maintain an inventory list of chemicals, hazardous materials, or other experimental materials that require refrigeration or freezing.
    • Ensure these systems have backup power or enough dry ice to keep materials preserved, if applicable.
  • Shut down equipment that is not being used. Equipment that runs unattended should be programmed to shut down safely and not restart when power returns.

Remember: Many campus facilities are equipped with generators to power critical functions. They may take 30-60 seconds to power on. If evacuation is necessary, emergency lighting is provided in most buildings.

During a Power Outage

If there is an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.

In the event of a power failure:

Report the Outage

  • Call the Facilities office at 860-486-3113.
    • Provide your location (room number and building), name, and the nature of the incident.
  • Follow any instructions that you receive from Facilities personnel.

Are you in a Laboratory?

If there is no imminent danger:

  • Safely stop work.
  • Close containers in fume hoods and close the sash.
  • Close any other open chemical containers.
  • Shut down powered equipment and ensure that equipment that may run unattended is programmed to shut down safely and not restart when power returns. This will reduce the likelihood of an unattended restart upon power restoration.
  • Avoid opening environmental room, refrigerator, or freezer doors until power is restored.
  • Do not use hazardous materials, or enter areas that require mechanical ventilation during the outage.
  • If power is restored, check the air flow in hoods before resuming any work.
  • Pay close attention to UConn Alerts for more information.
  • Immediately call 9-1-1 if a dangerous situation arises.

Are you in a Dormitory or University Apartment?

If there is no imminent danger:

  • Never use candles to light your room. Per the Department of Residential Life housing contract, candles are prohibited on campus.
  • Use a flashlight with batteries or your cellphone’s flashlight app for additional lighting.
  • Turn off any appliances (including your stove), electronics, and other voltage-sensitive devices in order to prevent them from restarting unattended when power is restored.
  • Keep the doors to refrigerators and freezers closed to help them stay cold.
  • During daytime, if there is power elsewhere on campus, you may leave your room and continue with normal activities. During the night, stay in your room unless otherwise directed.
  • Pay close attention to UConn Alerts.
  • Follow any directions you receive from Facilities or Emergency Personnel.

Are you Trapped in an Elevator?

Elevators will not operate without power, even though the emergency lighting may be on. If you become trapped in an elevator, the following actions should be taken:

  • Stay calm and use the elevator phone or your cell phone to call 9-1-1 for assistance.
    • Provide the following information to Emergency Personnel:
      • Your name
      • Your location – where you are in the building and what floor the elevator is on
      • Total number of people in the elevator
      • Report any injuries, medical conditions, or disabilities.
  • Press the ALARM or HELP button to notify others who may be nearby.
  • Do not attempt to force the door open or attempt to climb out of the elevator car.
  • The elevator may restart without warning.
  • Your best course of action is to relax, get comfortable, and wait for professional assistance. Even if the air temperature feels warm, there is plenty of air circulating in the elevator and throughout the shaft.

The UConn Fire Department and regional campus emergency personnel are trained in elevator rescue.

After a Power Outage:

If there is an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.

If there is no imminent danger:

  • Pay close attention to UConn Alerts.
  • Avoid a power surge by turning off and/or unplugging non-essential electrical equipment, computers, and other voltage-sensitive equipment or appliances.
  • Check cooking appliances to ensure that they were not left powered on and unattended while the power went out.
  • Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep others away from them. Report downed power lines by calling 9-1-1.

Situational Awareness

  • Always avoid exposed or downed power lines.
    • Stay two pole-lengths away.
  • Never walk through flooded areas.
  • Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40°F (4°C) or higher for 2 hours or more or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture. When in doubt, throw it out! (FDA)
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning device inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace, any partially enclosed area, or in any University building.
  • If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors. Call 9-1-1 and remain outdoors until Emergency Personnel arrive.
  • If a power line falls on a car, stay inside your vehicle. Warn people not to touch the car or the line. Call 9-1-1 immediately. Only leave your car if there is more imminent danger, like a fire.
    • To safely exit the vehicle in this emergency:
      • Open the door. Do not step out of the car, or you may receive a shock.
      • Jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground.
      • Slowly shuffle your feet away from the vehicle and downed power line.
  • Refer to our Extreme Weather guides if the conditions exist.

Faculty and Staff

After power is restored and you return to normal operations, the Office of Emergency Management recommends that you discuss the power outage with your team and identify the strengths and weaknesses of how the incident went. Develop a plan for how to respond to a power outage in the future and include it in your department Emergency Operations Plan. Call the Office of Emergency Management at 860-486-5174 with any questions. Encourage your staff and faculty to sign up for UConn Alerts.