Stanford University

Preparing for a Power Outage in a Research Facility

Power outages can be unpredictable in duration and timing. This document serves to guide faculty and researchers well in advance of a power outage in preparation and suggests actions to take during and after an outage.

Preparing for an Outage:

  • Make sure to designate an emergency contact person for your lab. This person should be available for contact 24 hours a day should an emergency arise during a power outage.
    • Make sure the emergency contact phone numbers on the life safety box and in Bioraft, are up to date.
  • Make sure your area has a battery-powered or hand-crank flashlight.
  • Do not leave open chemicals in the fume hood when the fume hood is unattended. 
  • Always safely store chemicals after use.
  • Be sure to put essential equipment on emergency power circuits. These circuits have red cover plates and are powered by an emergency generator at each lab building.
    • Install appropriately-sized surge protection devices for all sensitive or expensive electronics.
    • Consult with Facilities Management, (858) 534-2930, if you need to install an uninterruptible power source (ups) or other backup electrical systems or equipment.
  • Make a list of equipment that must be reset, reprogrammed, restarted, or recalibrated once power returns.
    • Post the list in a highly visible spot, or multiple spots.
    • Program equipment that operates unattended to shut down safely during a power failure and not restart automatically when power returns.
  • Identify an emergency source of dry ice, if you have items that must be kept cold.
    • Note: Refrigerators and freezers will maintain their temperature for several hours if they are not opened.
    • Do not use dry ice in walk-in refrigerators, cold rooms, or other confined areas.

 While the power is off:

  • Do NOT run experiments that involve hazardous materials.
  • Check fume hoods and biosafety cabinets and take the following precautions, if applicable:
    • Stop any operations that may be emitting hazardous vapors, fumes, or infectious agents.
    • Check to make sure caps are secure
    • Ensure fume hood and biosafety cabinet sashes have been closed.
  • Check equipment on emergency power to ensure it’s running properly.
    • Note: It may take 20 to 30 seconds for emergency power to activate after a power failure.
  • Reduce backup electrical use and risk of power surges by:
    • Disconnecting from emergency outlets unnecessary equipment that runs unattended, and
    • Turning off unnecessary lights and equipment.
  • Transfer vulnerable items from cold rooms and refrigerators that have lost power to equipment served by emergency power.

When the power returns:




    • Fire alarm horns and strobes are active.
    • Power is off / lights cannot be turned on.
    • Exit signs are not illuminated.
  • Ensure the ventilation system has been on for at least 30 minutes after the AlertSU all-clear message. 
  • Enter rooms with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • Monitor equipment.
    • Be aware of equipment that may have automatically restarted when power is restored.
    • Reset and restart equipment per manufacturer instructions.
    • Recalibrate and reprogram equipment as necessary
    • Fume Hoods and Biosafety Cabinets (if applicable):
      • If building systems including fume hoods and biosafety cabinets fail to restart or operate properly, contact Facilities 650-723-2281 (650-721-2146 for SoM dispatch).
      • Confirm airflow is restored.
      • For biosafety cabinets, run blower for 5 minutes then disinfect BSC prior to use.
    • Refrigerators / Freezers / Cold Rooms (if applicable)
      • Ensure refrigerators /freezers/ cold rooms return to safe working temperature prior to opening doors or at least 12 hours. ii. Keep doors closed on refrigerators and freezers if they have failed until repaired.

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