Do all your staff know how to manually override external gates and barriers in case they are locked down during a power cut?

In today’s electronically connected world we rely on so many things to run our business that rely on electricity. But what happens if the power goes out, can your business continue to operate? What about customers in the store or if it occurs when the store is unmanned.

Power cuts are not as common as they used to be across Europe, but they still occur. Particularly in extreme weather conditions, such as extended cold with increase burden on the grid from heating, or hot spells where air conditioners are pulling energy from the system. There are also questions being raised in some countries about how much capacity is in the network to cope with increasing demand from all the modern electronics and emerging technology such as electric cars and automated factories. Most self-storage stores rely fairly heavily on electricity, controlling access to the store, the management system, security features, lighting, lifts and more. Yet many self-storage operators have not considered what actions they would need to take if the power went out.

Access control needs to be considered, particularly if you have people in the building when the power goes out. Can they exit the building and premises? Barry Rimmer from PTI Security explains “Low voltage access control systems are installed with an independent power supply that operates the whole system and is fitted with a battery back-up. The controller for the system would usually also have a battery back-up.

This means that in principle the system can continue to operate when there is a power loss at the facility. However, remember that gates and doors also need power to operate so this must be facilitated.” Internal sliding doors may have a battery back-up to allow a certain number of operations without mains power and customers could also potentially use emergency exits to get out of the building. But what about your perimeter gates or barriers, these require more power than an internal door and rarely have battery back ups. In the case of a power out these gates will usually stop where there are, which could be closed. Do all your staff know how to engage the manual override for these gates and operate them without electricity? They often need a special tool or key to switch them into manual mode.

Lifts are another consideration. In the case of a power out they will default to the nearest safe position, which is usually locking where they are. Best case scenario this makes them unusable. Worst case is you have someone stuck in a lift potentially between floors. Do you know how to deal with this situation? What manual overrides are there to open the doors and get people out. Also consider when the power comes on will the lift be operable straight away or will it remain in “safe mode” until a technician clears it for service.

Disaster management planning should be an integral part of your business and training programme. Its not all about catastrophic events like floods and fires. You should have a plan for events like power cuts to ensure your customers and staff are safe and your business continues as best as it can.

Getting customers out of the building and off site is one thing, but what if the power stays off for an extended period? Do you close the gates and take the day(s) off or can you still operate your business to some extent without power. Does your phone system run through a powered switchboard, what happens to calls if that is down? Do you have a battery-operated laptop or tablet with 4G or other mobile internet access that you can access your key systems with? What happens if a customer is due to move their goods out and has a removalists truck ready to go when the power goes out? If you have after hours access to your store, what happens if the power goes out then. Will your security system notify you that the power is out and will it tell you if anyone is in the building at the time? What insurance cover do you have or business losses due to power failures?

Disaster management planning should be an integral part of your business and training programme. Its not all about catastrophic events like floods and fires. You should have a plan for events like power cuts to ensure your customers and staff are safe and your business continues as best as it can. Sometimes businesses have been left for days or even weeks without power.

Source: SSA publication UNLOCKED Volume 2