Q&A: What to do if the power goes out

09 May 2001 |

How long are blackouts supposed to last?
One to two hours.

How much warning will we have?
You may have 15-to-30 minutes of warning if you are located on campus. Off-campus buildings will not receive advance notice.

How will we be notified?
The campus Police Department Communications Center will be notified by PG&E or by the Independent System Operator, which oversees the state power grid. The police department will then use its outdoor public address system, a loud siren/warning tone that is broadcast from atop four campus buildings. The alert tone —heard on any day except during its normal Friday, 12:30 p.m. test time —will signal an imminent blackout. Off-campus employees will not be notified.

Should I shut down my computer?
Turn off and unplug your computer to protect your system from potential power surges when electricity is restored.

Will the phones work?
Many phones will not work, as they rely upon electricity to operate their local systems. Others may have dial tones and be used for outgoing calls, but may not have an audible ring or lights for incoming calls.

Do buildings have emergency lighting if the power goes out?
Some buildings have emergency lighting powered by generators; others have emergency lighting powered by batteries. The battery systems may last only 30-to-45 minutes before failing. Some buildings do not have any emergency lighting.

Do we stay at work or will the campus close?
Staff should remain at work for their normal shift; they are not automatically dismissed. Rolling blackouts should last only one or two hours, so employees should also remain near their workplace to resume work when power is restored. There are creative ways to continue to be productive, such as holding staff meetings and filing in office areas with adequate daylight. Notice will be given if and when the campus is closed.

How will a blackout affect central computing services?
Central computing services will begin to shut down as soon as we are alerted to rolling blackouts. The IBM mainframe computer will be among the first systems to be shut down, which will result in a shut down of the online Berkeley Financial Services, online payroll services and the students’ database, among other services. UCLink, CalMail, CalAgenda, Telebears and InfoBears are just a few of the many systems that will be unavailable until central computing systems are restored. Users may call 642-4774 for updated information on systems status.

What essential services will remain operational even if the campus loses all power?
The campus Police Department, including 911 services, will remain in operation, as well as Physical Plant, Environmental Health and Safety, University Health Services, Capital Projects, Housing and Dining, and Information Systems & Technology. These operations are necessary to support critical central campus services.

Back to main story


Home | Search | Archive | About | Contact | More News

Copyright 2000, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.

Comments? E-mail