CP: Electric Power Failure

December 29, 2012

in Contingency Plan

A Contingency Plan (CP) for electric power failure will be a “continuity of function” type of plan. Generally, this plan addresses the overall failure of public utility electric power as often occurs during storms involving high winds. There are other scenarios that can cause power failures and other types of electrical problems and failures. This plan could be adapted to those as needed. This CP might be related to the following scenarios and CPs:

  • Scenario: BIG STORM
  • CP: Communication Systems Failure
  • CP: Hunker Down And Ride It Out (HDARIO) Plan

CONTROLS (preventative measures and functions) from the following areas should be considered:

  • Planning
  • Knowledge Management
  • Resource Management
  • Communications
  • Process Improvement
  • Training and Awareness

This contingency plan is designed to be used by itself for an isolated power failure or as a sub-component to a larger master plan that may have power failure as one of many potential impacts. The scope of the plan is concerned primarily with [insert location here – family residence, business office, etc] but could be expanded if needed. [location] involves public utility grid electric power from [power company name] (see contact appendix for details). No specific assumptions are made about status at the beginning of an outage, or the geographic scope or time-frame of any outage. These factors will require the plan to be adaptable to accommodate them as possible and practical. The plan should also consider long term outages and be able to adjust for failures of indefinite length.

Areas of failed function:

  • LIGHTING: Electric lights
  • HEATING/COOLING: Air conditioning, ceiling fans, heating system ignition and blowers (heat is gas fueled)
  • FOOD/COOKING: Refrigerator, freezer, microwave, oven, gas stove ignitors
  • COMMUNICATIONS: – primary phone system, internet, cable, cell phones (towers out, battery life), radio
  • Hot water heater ignition (heat is gas fueled)
  • Access control/security system, garage door opener drive motor
  • Electric tools (drills, saws)

Impact Matrix – create a matrix with analysis of the importance and impact of the failed function according to your environment and situation.


    • Mission/Function/Process definition
    • Contingency Plan (this plan)
    • Impact analysis
    • Response plan
    • Knowledge Inventory (related to this plan)
    • Monitoring – of power sources
    • Alerts and advisories (weather forecasts and more)
    • Risk assessment
    • Key resource list
    • Inventory of all backup items and resources
    • Backup lights – battery powered LED flashlights in every room, candles and matches in kitchen near stove, butane lighter in bug-out bag
    • Power supply backups
      • Rechargable batteries for flashlights and other
      • Solar battery re-charger for multiple battery types
      • Small portable solar charger for cell phone
      • Small portable battery pack for cell phone (or other USB capable needs)
      • Generator, fuel, switch, extension cords
      • Solar panels, charge controller, battery bank
      • UPSs on most needed electronic devices (router and switches, phone modem, main phone device, cable box and television, main computers [note that laptops have built-in batteries]
      • Multimeter for testing
      • Use car generator/battery (may require adaptors, inverter for AC)
    • Cooling – battery operated fans, charging unit, inverter, extension cords, portable AC unit
    • Heating – fireplace, matches/lighter, fuel supply (gas, wood, charcoal)
    • Cooking – gas stove top (matches, lighter), grill (propane fuel)
    • Electric tools – all battery operated, chargers, inverter, extension cords
    • Testing of backup items and resources [on regular schedule]
    • Communications plan
    • Contact list
    • Radios, battery powered and handcrank, with multiple waveband capability
    • Communication backups
      • Extra cell phone batteries, battery pack, solar re-charger (see above)
      • UPSs on main electronic infrastructure (see above)
    • Physical access control
    • Physical access monitoring
    • Security alert system
    • Key information analysis
    • Monitoring for information disclosure
    • Vulnerability assessment (limited to OPSEC)
    • Process improvement plan
    • Metrics
    • Testing
    • Awareness
    • Training
    • Practice and drills


  • Activation and notification plan
  • Shutdown plan and checklist – designates devices to be shutdown, priority and schedule, arranged for use as a checklist
  • Energy conservation plan and checklist – a plan to minimize and prioritize the use of electric energy, arranged for use as a checklist
  • Restore plan and checklist – a plan for turning devices back on, priority and schedule, arranged for use as a checklist
  • Process improvement plan – process improvement methodology, tailored to collect data from this scenario, used to improve these processes, documented and included in this plan


    • Warning notification – when the potential for an electrical outage can be forecast, an early warning is to be distributed
    • Interval notification – when the electric power has been out for 5 minutes, a short term notification is distributed
    • When the electric power has been out for 30 minutes, a long term notification is distributed
    • When the power has been restored for 5 minutes, a notification of return to normal operations is distributed
    • All notifications are sent out to the word of mouth (person to person) communications tree list and to the SMS text message list (see appendix for both lists)
    • Prepare – as a routine process, check backups and activate charging processes. If a warning is given, prepare for an outage using the shutdown list to turn off non-essential devices.
    • Activate and/or check backup power sources to make sure everything is working properly.
    • Shutdown – use the shutdown list to turn off devices running on backup power according to schedule and priority. Check and turn off switches to minimize power demand surge on restoration.
    • Conserve – use the shutdown list to prioritize power usage during the outage.
    • Monitor – according to the shutdown list schedule, make manual observations and use power for communications to check outage status.
  • RESTORE – use the restore checklist to turn devices back on according to priority and schedule. Check functionality. Use activation checklist for any notifications needed.
  • LEARN AND IMPROVE – take notes of processes that went well and problem areas. Apply process improvement plan to learn and improve. Feed back into training and practice.

NOTE – IT IS IMPORTANT FOR A PRINTED COPY(S) OF THIS PLAN TO BE EASILY AVAILABLE (during a power failure you may not want to use battery power to access or print a copy of the plan)


  • Impact analysis
  • Inventory list (including backup resources)
  • Plan activation checklist
  • Notification contact list
  • Shutdown checklist (including conservation checklist)
  • Restore checklist
  • Testing procedures

[NOTE – this contingency plan outline is laid out from the perspective of a family residence and is limited by that viewpoint and the authors experience. It should not be considered as comprehensive for every environment or circumstance and parts of it are not completed because they are dependent upon scenario specific components. The plan needs to be completed for the environment and circumstances in which it is intended to operate.]

Contingency Plan
Making a Contingency Plan
Negative Events vs Positive Events
Scenario: Big Storm

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