August has seen numerous storms in which lightening has been a major factor, so what are the dangers for businesses during an electrical storm and can your business survive a thunderstorm?

June Meagher, of GNC Electrics Ltd was on the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands the day after a major storm on Tuesday, 11 August, 2020.  She went to buy petrol and was advised that it was cash only sales as there was no internet connection due to a storm the previous day.  June was lucky, she had some cash on her and was able to fill up however upon trying to take out more cash June found all the cash machines were empty and many shops closed as they used systems reliant on the internet.

June got to thinking about how those businesses which only just opened after COVID-19 were now faced with further disruption to trade, as the technology they used depended upon the internet for processing transactions. June also wondered what other problems such storms bring to businesses and what can they do to help themselves.  June compiled a list after doing some research which looks at what to do before it happens, during the storm and afterwards:

Before the thunderstorm

  • Ensure staff know where the electrical/gas/water turn off points are
  • Before a storm strikes make sure all appliances that work with a battery are fully charged
  • Redirect calls from fixed telephone lines to mobiles
  • Think about withdrawing some cash for yourself and your business if you take cash sales (might be a good idea to keep a receipt book handy)
  • Fill up your vehicle with appropriate fuel
  • Unplug all devices not being used and keep unplugged for duration of the storm, if the storm is predicted for after closing time, unplug everything you can until you get back into the office
  • Check your building and equipment e.g. switchboard/fuse box has lightening protection and earthing systems in place
  • Look to shut down any solar PV system until the storm passes (if you suspect damage upon inspection afterwards, call in an expert)
  • If you suspect there might be a flood move all electrical devices to higher shelves, upper floors and do not use any equipment that might have been flood damaged
  • Do a back up of your computer systems (preferably to the cloud)
  • Ensure that any trees around your office or home are well rooted and do not pose a danger, should any fall or be struck by lightening, stay away from it until an expert can make the area safe
  • Think of your processes, what needs electric/internet?  And, how can you switch to manual during a storm
  • Check that your insurance documents are up to date

During the thunderstorm

  • Do not to use a fixed telephone system as you can get a shock
  • Use battery operated appliances where you can e.g. laptops, mobiles
  • If you have staff out in their cars advise them to stay away from powerlines, water courses/rivers and be on the look out for fallen trees, preferably your H&S booklet will advise on what staff are to do in adverse weather
  • If you are out in a boat, fishing or swimming, get out of the water as soon as possible, more people are killed in boats than in cars with lightening
  • Do not go out to look at storms, particularly on beaches, as lightening strikes can and do kill people and animals
  • Do not use or lean against anything that conducts electricity e.g. metal doors, windows, cables, appliances.  A risk assessment of your business premises should identify areas of concern

After the thunderstorm

  • If there has been any damage to external power lines or telephone poles call in an expert e.g. BT
  • Check all electrical devices and, again, if you suspect any damage has occurred then, again, call in an expert
  • Do not use water damaged electrical appliances

If you have any concerns about any of your appliances, systems, cabling or fuse boxes, get in touch now.

 

 

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