Power Outages

Power Outages

The inherent danger during a major power outage is panic, therefore, all Campus personnel should attempt to remain calm. In the event of a major, campus-wide outage, the Seminary has emergency generators that will immediately provide power to some areas of the campus. To report a minor, localized power outage, call: Safety & Security, 610-785-6238. 

Remember, keep flashlights and batteries in key locations throughout your work areas or room. In Case of a Major, Campus-Wide Outage: remain calm and follow directions from the Security Department for immediate action. If evacuation of a building is required, see “Facility Evacuation Guidelines:”

Power outages can be caused by a variety of events, major causes of power outages in the U.S. include weather-related events, animals contacting wires, auto accidents, utility maintenance, human error, and events that are unknown. Power outages can be hazardous, especially during the cold winter months and hot summer months when temperatures can become dangerously low or high. 

Here are some safety tips you can follow:


There are three reasons to turn off or unplug any appliances you were using when the power went out:

  • Protecting your appliances: When power returns, there will be a surge of electrical energy that could damage sensitive equipment like computers, TVs, or VCRs. Unplugging them one by one, while leaving one light on, will let you know electricity has been restored.
  • Safety: It is easy to forget during an outage that you had a stove burner or an iron on. If you’re away from home when electric service is restored, you can have a serious safety hazard.
  • Helping your utility to restore service: Restarting appliances can use almost double the amount of electricity that they use when running normally. Think of the way lights dim briefly when the A/C fan comes on. Then imagine the power demands placed on the electric system when every customer needs more power than usual—all at the same time. When the main switches are re-energized, this demand can cause breakers to trip. It helps if you don’t have all your appliances waiting to draw power the instant it is restored.

Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances. 

Food Safety

If the power is out for less than 2 hours, then the food in your refrigerator and freezer will be safe to consume. While the power is out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for longer. If the power is out for longer than 2 hours, follow the guidelines below:

  • Freezer section: A freezer that is half full will hold food safely for up to 24 hours. A full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours. Do not open the freezer door if you can avoid it.
  • For the Refrigerated section: Pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy, and spoilable leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive Styrofoam coolers are fine for this purpose.
  • Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of your food right before you cook or eat it. Throw away any food that has a temperature of more than 40 degrees Fahrenheit.


Cordless phones or extension phones that require connection to an electric outlet will not work during power outages. Models that only need to be plugged into the phone jack will work. A battery radio lets you keep up with the news from the outside world. Make sure you have extra batteries. You could also use your car radio in an emergency, but remember the dangers of running a vehicle in an enclosed space.

Impact of Outages on Perishable Medical Supplies

Do not open freezers and refrigerators until power is restored and many refrigerated medicines or vaccines are relatively stable at room temperature for limited periods of time. In cases where medicine needs refrigeration, contact your local pharmacist or physician.

Downed Power Line Hazards

If a power line falls on a car, you should stay inside the vehicle. This is the safest place to stay. Warn people not to touch the car or the line. Call or ask someone to call the local utility company and emergency services.

The only circumstance in which you should consider leaving a car that is in contact with a downed power line is if the vehicle catches on fire. Open the door. Do not step out of the car. You may receive a shock. Instead, jump free of the car so that your body clears the vehicle before touching the ground. Once you clear the car, shuffle at least 50 feet away, with both feet on the ground.

As in all power line related emergencies, call for help immediately by dialing 911 or call your electric utility company’s Service Center/Dispatch Office.

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