Utility shut-off

A utility shutdown can happen due to an unplanned event or scheduled maintenance. Depending on the scope of the shutdown, there are simple steps you can follow to ensure the safety of your laboratory and the people who work in it.

Learn what to do before, during, and after a power failure in a laboratory.

  • BEFORE the power fails
    • Contact. Post emergency contact phone numbers on the lab safety sign in the hallway outside your lab. 
      Contact your  EH&S Research Safety Specialist to make changes to this sign
    • Flashlights. Equip your emergency/spill kit with a battery powered flashlight.
    • Chemicals. Do not leave open chemicals in the fume hood when the fume hood is unattended. Always safely store chemicals after use.
    • Electrical. Put essential equipment on emergency power circuits.
      • Install appropriately-sized surge protection devices for all sensitive or expensive electronics.
      • Consult with Facilities Services if you need to install an uninterruptible power source (ups) or other backup electrical systems or equipment.
    • Equipment. Make a list of equipment that must be reset, reprogrammed, restarted, or recalibrated once power returns. 
      • Post the list in a conspicuous place.
      • Program equipment that operates unattended to shut down safely during a power failure and not restart automatically when power returns.
    • Dry Ice. Identify an emergency source of dry ice, if you have items that must be kept cold. 
      Note: Refrigerators and freezers will maintain their temperature for several hours if they are not opened.
      Do not use dry ice in walk-in refrigerators or other confined areas.
  • DURING the power outage
    • Bio/Chem/Rad. Shut down experiments that involve hazardous materials. 
      Make sure experiments are stable and won't create uncontrolled hazards.
    • Fume hoods & Biosafety Cabinets. Check fume hoods and biosafety cabinets and take the following precautions, if applicable: 
      • Stop any operations that may be emitting hazardous vapors, fumes, or infectious agents.
      • Securely cap any open containers.
      • Close fume hood and biosafety cabinet sashes.
    • Electrical. Check equipment on emergency power to ensure it's running properly. 
      Note: It may take 20 to 30 seconds for emergency power to activate after a power failure.
    • Power surges. Reduce electrical use and risk of power surges by: 
      • Disconnecting from emergency outlets equipment that runs unattended, and
      • Turning off unnecessary lights and equipment.
    • Temperature control. Transfer vulnerable items from cold rooms and refrigerators that have lost power to equipment served by emergency power.
  • AFTER the power returns

    Check equipment

    • Reset and restart equipment
      • If building systems, including fume hoods, fail to restart or operate correctly, contact Facilities Services
      • If non-building equipment fails to restart or operate correctly, contact the manufacturer or service provider.
    • Confirm air flow in your fume hood is restored.
    • Recalibrate and reprogram equipment as necessary.

    Keep doors closed on refrigerators and freezers that failed until they have been repaired and returned to safe working temperature. 

    • Note: Some refrigerators and freezers require a manual restart.


    • If system or equipment failures create hazardous conditions, immediately notify: 
      • During business hours contact Environmental Health & Safety (951) 827-5528
      • After business hours contact Police by dialing 911 or from a campus phone (951) 827-5222