Utility failure

Actions you should take if a power failure, water leak or flooding occurs.

Power failures

There are two basic causes of power failures:

  • Faults are mainly caused by accidents or weather conditions. If your power lines are overhead, there is a greater chance of problems.
  • Overloads occur when the demand for electricity exceeds the capacity of the distribution system to supply it.

In either case, protection equipment operates to switch off supply to limit any damage and prevent further problems.

Faults and overloads can occur inside your own building or can affect entire regions. This can have a knock on affect to building utilities, air-conditioning, lifts, sewage system, lighting, fridges and freezers.

Please be aware that some telephones that are landline based may not function as a result of the power failure. In the event that you need to contact someone close by, you may need to allocate a runner to communicate with other areas.

Emergency action

  1. Contact maintenance to determine cause of failure.
  2. Call security on 966.
  3. Locate torches.
  4. Undertake a search to check that a fire has not resulted from an overload or is the reason for power failure.
  5. Check if there are people stuck in lifts and note the location,
  • do not attempt to free people yourself
  • assign people to maintain contact with people in the lift
  • report to UniSafe / Maintenance.
  1. Cease laboratory work.
  2. Make sure that any machinery is placed in ‘safe mode’ or in a position where it will not inadvertently start when the power is restored.
  3. If you go ahead with partial evacuation of a building floor, do so by word of mouth.
  4. Complete Building evacuation shall take place if:
  • power outage has affected the entire complex and building is not fitted with a backup generator within 25 minutes of outage. Emergency lighting that relies on battery power will last between 30 – 90 minutes.
  • This is important for multi-storey complexes that have internal stairwells, as these will become pitch black making it difficult to get out.
  • Occupants should take personal belongings. 
  • The fire alarm system shall only be activated where lives are threatened by fire or gas.
  • Ensure persons who have a disability or need assistance are helped from the building. Do not lift or carry person down stairwell. Assign a buddy to person, note location and inform the building warden.
  • Liaise with Emergency Services/Lift Service people/UniSafe/Maintenance.
  1. Assemble at the main entrance of the complex for non-emergency situations or the standard assembly points for emergency situations.

General suggestions

  • Switch off all electrical appliances, especially those that have heating elements.
  • Unplug 'surge-sensitive' equipment, such as computers and video recorders.
  • Keep one light switch turned on so you know when the power returns.
  • Turn on a battery operated radio and listen to a local radio station for information if everyone has lost power.



Water Leaks or Flooding

Floods caused by domestic systems usually do not endanger people but can cause extensive damage to buildings and equipment.

Safety issues

  • What is in the water? Has it mixed with dangerous chemicals, sewerage, etc.?
  • What is floating in the water which you cannot see?
  • How deep is the water? You might not be able to see the large hole or basement stairs covered in water. Access pit lids usually float off in flooded water.
  • Is the water live with electricity? For floods inside buildings, this is especially dangerous with most power points and power boards close to the floor.

Emergency action

  1. Turn off water at source if possible.
  2. If possible, isolate electrical sources at the switch board or call maintenance.
  3. If available and considered useful, local spill kits should be used to restrict the flow of water.
  4. Isolate area by closing doors.
  5. Call Security on 966 and maintenance on 87925.
  6. Consider evacuation:
  • partial evacuation of floor by word of mouth
  • do not use lifts, use stairwell unaffected of flooding where possible.
  1. Don't move people from safety to danger!