A power outage in a commercial building can leave tenants in a precarious situation. Unlike in your home, where you know who to call when the power goes out, being a tenant in a commercial property can be a fit confusing. Who do you contact? Do you need to call the power company? Do you stay put or leave the building?

While power outages don’t immediately come to mind when signing up a new tenant for your property or renewing the lease of a current one, if you’re the owner or manager of a commercial property, it really is a wise idea to have some sort of emergency power outage plan in place that you can share when you’re signing leases. It can be part of a packet of materials that you provide to the tenant and something they can review themselves and with their employees before an outage happens. This is especially important if you’re in an area where storms or other extreme weather cause outages to occur frequently.

Power outage prevention

While having a plan in place is ideal, a good place to start is in finding ways to prevent outages in the first place. Property managers can take a variety of steps to help stop outages, though none are fail-proof.

Birds and other wildlife can be a problem, so erect fences and other guards around wires to prevent them from gnawing through them. Remember to keep trees trimmed so that high winds don’t send errant limbs flying to places where they can do damage. Also be sure that trees are healthy and sturdy. A toppled tree can be a real problem when power lines are nearby.

Some sort of lightning rod or lightning “arrestors” are ideal if you experience an abundance of electrical storms in your area. Often, they are the primary cause of power outages.

Putting back-ups in place

As a property manager, you’ve probably already recognized how important it is to have a back-up or standby power source in place for your commercial tenants. A back-up diesel, propane, or natural gas generator is ideal when it’s essential for power to be uninterrupted.

How do they work? An automatic transfer switch allows the generator to kick into gear as soon as the main power source is compromised. When power is restored, the switch signals the generator to turn off. It’s a seamless procedure that could save your tenants lots of headaches and, potentially, lots of time and money, too.

…but back to that guide!

If you’ve done all you can to avoid outages and prevent interruptions to service, you’ve done your job. Nonetheless, it’s still a wise idea to develop a plan in case an outage strikes and so that your tenants don’t panic and know what to do in an outage emergency.

  • Decide who tenants need to call in the event of a power outage. Is it you or someone else you’ve appointed for this task? Or should they call the power company directly? Include instructions on how to reach this person including landline and cellphone numbers. If text is preferred, indicate that. Keep these phone numbers current and include an alternate contact in case the primary person can’t be reached.
  • Provide a list of helpful items a tenant should have on hand in case of a power emergency…or supply the tenant with these items if you wish. This could include flashlights, extra batteries, and alternative battery-operated light sources.
  • Establish rules about sheltering in place, if that’s your preference, or identify a location where all tenants could meet together in case of an emergency.
  • Print the specifics of your plan and include it with the lease. Also ask your tenant to post the plan on a wall or door where it’s easy for employees and others to locate. Stress the importance of following the plan. Also make sure you’ve included a detailed floor plan of the building, especially if it’s a large structure.

Remember, a swift and easy-to-follow response is necessary in case of a power outage. Business losses increase when power outages drag on, so being a well-prepared property manager will protect your tenants and earn you some kudos as well.

At Western Oil Services, we can help you learn more about back-up power for those times when your primary source of energy fails and by providing you the right products for the job. We’re experts in the industry and are eager to help commercial owners and property managers find the right solution for their back-up power needs. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call us at 604-514-4787.