Power Outage

Most power outages are isolated to specific buildings, and in most cases, power resumes in less than five minutes. Campus-wide power outages are extremely rare. Unless there is an imminent threat to your safety (fire, smoke, etc.), it is often best to remain in place during a power outage and wait for the power to be restored.

How to Prepare:

When severe weather is predicted, these steps can help you minimize the inconvenience of a power outage:

  • Charge your cell phone fully in advance.
  • Prepare a flashlight with fresh batteries. Important:  Candles are prohibited in dormitories and annexes.
  • Store a supply of bottled water (enough for drinking and cooking) and easy-to-prepare, non-perishable foods available for extended outages. 
  • Fill the freezer and refrigerator with bottles filled with water to help maintain temperatures longer. 
  • Protect sensitive electronics, such as televisions and computers, by plugging them into surge protectors.

Equipment That Will Continue to Operate During a Power Outage

  • Corded telephones. (cordless phones rely on a power supply)
  • Emergency lighting designed to illuminate exit pathways.
  • Prox card systems.
  • Building fire alarm systems.
  • Specially marked receptacles connected to emergency generator power.
  • Equipment supported by uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) systems (temporarily on the battery backup).

Please note that systems connected to emergency generators may experience a brief (less than 10 seconds) interruption as power is switched to the emergency generator and when power to the building is restored. In most buildings, only the alarm systems and emergency lighting are connected to the generator.

Most elevators will not function during a power outage.

What to Do:

Offices and other buildings

  • Remain calm and stay where you are - unless there is an imminent threat to your safety (e.g., a fire).  Since most power outages last less than five minutes, it may be best to remain in place, rather than attempt to evacuate the building.
  • Contact Facilities Customer Service Center at 258-8000 to report an outage in your building or to find more information about the outage. See the Facilities website for a list of known outages and related information. 
  • Do not call the Department of Public Safety or dial 911 to report the outage or to find out more information.
  • If you are in an unlit area, proceed with caution to an area that has emergency lighting.  Your cell phone may be equipped with a flashlight feature or you can use the backlight of the phone for temporary illumination.
  • If you are trapped in an elevator, stay calm. Use the elevator telephone to alert Public Safety of your location. See information on Elevator Emergencies for more guidance.
  • Turn off all computers, televisions, light switches and appliances to avoid a surge when the power is restored.
  • Do not open refrigerators or freezers. This will keep items cold and avoid spoilage.


  • Prior to an outage, assemble a list of equipment that must be reset, restarted or that requires special attention in the event of an outage.
  • Ensure experiments, equipment and machinery are stabilized and safe.
  • Cease work, close containers in fume hoods and close the sash.  In most buildings, the fume hoods are not connected to generator power. Do not use hazardous materials, or enter areas that require mechanical ventilation during the outage.
  • Avoid opening environmental room, refrigerator or freezer doors until power is restored. 
  • For an extended power outage, it may become necessary to consolidate materials in freezers and use dry ice. Always use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when handling dry ice.
  • Equipment that runs unattended should be programmed to shut down safely and not to restart when power returns.
  • After the outage, reset or restart equipment. Check air flow in hoods.

Classroom and Assembly Spaces

  • Faculty and front-of-house personnel should instruct the class/assembly to remain in place and wait until power resumes. 
  • If power does not return in 15 minutes, organize an orderly exit from the building. Contact the Department of Public Safety at 911 for assistance in conducting an evacuation.

Dormitories and Residential Areas

  • Use caution within your residence and on the stairs – lighting will be minimal. Use a flashlight or battery-operated lantern. Important:  Candles are prohibited in dormitories and annexes.
  • Do not open refrigerators or freezers. This will keep items cold and avoid spoilage. Refrigerated food can generally last up to 4 hours in a closed refrigerator and frozen food can generally last 24-48 hours, depending on load.
  • The carbon monoxide detectors in your residence may start beeping. Call Facilities Customer Service at 609-258-8000 to report the issue.
  • Turn off any appliances, including stoves, in order to prevent them from restarting unattended when power is restored.