Prepare your practice for power outages over summer

28 October 2019

As we approach summer and temperatures rise, power outages become more common due to significant strain on the electricity system. Areas surrounded by bushland are at risk of bushfires and are more susceptible to power supply issues. It is important that all staff in your practice are aware of your cold chain management back up plan for power outages.

Each immunisation facility should have a back-up plan and alternative vaccine storage if a power failure or fridge failure occurs, such as:

  • Back-up power supply e.g. generator or battery/solar back up (UPS)
  • Cooler or esky (enough to fit all vaccines, also accommodating ice/gel packs and bubble wrap, and a min/max thermometer per cooler)

Keep in mind there may only be 20–30 minutes before the vaccine refrigerator temperature rises above +8°C when there is a power failure so alternative storage must be ready quickly.

Extreme weather

In the event of high temperatures, there may be potential shortfall of energy supplies or supplies may be interrupted.

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS), also known as a battery backup, provides backup power when your regular power source fails, or voltage drops to an unacceptable level. During a power outage, internal batteries in the UPS keep loads running long enough for normal utility power to come back on or to properly shut down systems.

Benefits of UPS include:

  • Automated power supply coverage in power outages
  • Minimises human error and vaccine wastage
  • Does not take up much room
  • Keeps vaccines in refrigerator
  • Range of sizes

The size and design of a UPS determines how long it will supply power. Please see our information sheet "Alternative vaccine storage options in a power failure" for more information and where to purchase.

If the practice experiences an interruption to power supply without back up power supply:

Other important points to consider:

  • Do not over order NIP vaccines. You can order twice a month, therefore only order what you need.
  • Ensure that responsible staff check and record the temperature readings (current, minimum and maximum) on the vaccine fridge twice daily (every day that the practice is open).
    • Confirm all staff have completed HETI Vaccine Storage and Cold Chain Management online training module with certificates on file.
    • Confirm all staff know how to record and reset readings.
    • Confirm all staff know what to do if a breach is identified.
  • Check the data logger is set up correctly to record temperatures every five minutes.
    • Confirm staff know how to download and review the data logger report.
  • If using a cooler as part of your back-up plan, make sure you have adequate sized eskies to hold all vaccine stock, enough ice packs, bubble wrap and a portable digital thermometer per esky as a means of alternative vaccine storage if a fridge or power failure occurs.

Further support

CESPHN Immunisation: 1300 986 991, option 4 for immunisation

Public Health Unit: 1300 066 055