Power Outage/Utility Failure

A utility outage (e.g., power, water, etc.) can cause significant disruption. While a brief outage may be bothersome, a longer outage can significantly impact operations. Below provides guidance on what to do before, during, and after an event occurs.

Electrical Failure

  • ­In buildings equipped with emergency generators, the generator will provide limited electricity to crucial areas (including the ­fire alarm system and emergency lighting).
  • ­Evacuate the building when instructed to do so. DO NOT reenter until you are instructed to do so.
  • ­To avoid damage from any surge when the power is restored, turn off and unplug nonessential electrical devices, especially voltage-sensitive equipment like computers. DO NOT turn them back on until power has been restored or you are advised to do so by Facilities Management.
  • ­In the event of an extended, campus-wide, or area-wide power outage, instructions and information will be provided through the UIC ALERT.
  • ­Elevators will not function during a power failure. Use the stairs to evacuate.

Before

  • Have an emergency flashlight ready for use in case of a power failure. Some buildings have emergency-only lighting during a power failure to assist building occupants in evacuating, but don’t rely on just that.
  • Keep your mobile phone charged in case you need to use the flashlight feature or to make an emergency call.
  • Ensure that university and personal computers automatically save and back-up your documents as you work on them. Contact your IT representative or consult@uic.edu for assistance.
  • For students: familiarize yourself with evacuation routes out of the classrooms, student housing, or other areas you regularly use, and who you will need to contact after evacuating. Store phone numbers in your mobile phone, like:
    • UIC Police at (312) 355-5555 (emergency) / (312) 996-2830 (non-emergency).
    • Your Resident Assistant’s phone number if you live on campus.
  • For employees: maintain a digital and hard-copy document of important information to use during a power outage or other utility failure:
    • Evacuation route map(s) and Building Emergency Action Plans for the building(s) you use the most. Contact evacuation@uic.edu for requests.
    • Important contacts (i.e., Facility/Building Manager, UIC Police, Utilities, your direct supervisor). Store phone numbers in your mobile phone, like UIC Police at (312) 355-5555 (emergency) / (312) 996-2830 (non-emergency).
    • Essential employees: Maintain a hard-copy of your unit’s continuity plan, including your role and responsibility such as: managing equipment, specimens, vaccines, and who to contact in an outage. Visit uic.edu to access the UI Ready Continuity Planning Tool.

During

  • Prepare to evacuate the building. Take only critical items, such as identification and your mobile phone.
  • In buildings equipped with emergency generators, the generator will provide limited electricity to crucial areas (the fire alarm system and emergency lighting).
  • Leave lights on as an indicator of the return of power.
  • Use a flashlight or mobile phone flashlight to navigate the evacuation route out of the building and to avoid slips, trips, and falls. DO NOT light candles.
  • Assist building occupants who may be unfamiliar with the exit route. When exiting the building, help others from exposure to extreme temperatures or hazardous conditions.
  • Use the stairs or the Area of Rescue Assistance to evacuate. Remember: elevators will not function during a power failure.
    • If unable to reach an Area of Rescue Assistance, remain in a room with an exterior window, a telephone, and a fire-resistant door.
    • If you need help evacuating, are injured, or need to report downed power lines, call UIC Police Department at (312) 355-5555 or emergency services at 911.
    • If the phone lines fail and you are unable to use the Chat with UIC Police on the UIC SAFE app, signal from a window by waving a brightly colored cloth or other visible object.
  • Before evacuating, essential employees should refer to the Building Emergency Action Plan and the Continuity Plan to maintain essential functions. Always evacuate the building when instructed to do so by emergency response personnel or the Environmental Health and Safety Office.
    • Essential employees should secure crucial research and activities, manage critical equipment, and keep refrigerators and freezers closed.
    • Prior to evacuating, avoid damage from any surge when the power is restored by turning off and unplugging nonessential electrical devices, especially voltage-sensitive equipment like computers. DO NOT turn them back on until power has been restored or you are advised to do so by Utilities and Energy Services, who can be contacted at (312) 996-3317 or uicutilities@uic.edu.

After Evacuating

  • DO NOT reenter the building until authorized emergency personnel give the “all-clear” signal.
  • When outdoors, be aware of downed power lines and weather conditions. Seek shelter as directed by officials or inside the nearest fully-operating building.
  • Monitor UIC ALERTs for status updates.
  • When safe, attempt to identify missing persons or individuals who have not evacuated and relay the names and suspected location to UIC Police or emergency response personnel. For residence halls, also call the Resident Assistant on duty using your mobile phone. Provide the following information:
    • Your name and current accessible phone number.
    • The building name, room number, and floors or areas affected.
    • The nature of the failure.
    • Any injuries and hazards, including hazardous materials, construction, etc.
  • Contact the Environmental Health and Safety Office if a specific hazard exists at (312) 996-7411 (if mechanical ventilation (HVAC) is interrupted).
  • Notify the Utilities and Energy Services of the situation at (312) 996-3317 when it is safe to do so.
  • In the event of an extended, campus-wide, or area-wide power outage, monitor instructions and information provided through the UIC ALERT and emergencyuic.edu.