With hurricane season coming to an end and the cold weather approaching, it is essential to know how to protect your assets in case of power outages safely. Vaccines taken out of a regular cold storage climate will not remain secure for long. During an outage, even a medical-grade refrigerator may become compromised with temperature excursions. Additionally, if a unit is left open, or the door gasket doesn’t seal properly due to age, or from running a data logging device cord through the door gasket, pockets of warm air can seep in and cause temperature fluctuations. Left unaddressed, the compressor will run too frequently – wasting energy and decreasing the cold-storage device’s lifespan, and compressor failure may occur.
To protect your payload, in addition to an audible alarm on the unit, a temperature data logger with text or email warnings is recommended as a minimum extra security feature. If you are in an area that experiences severe storms, blackouts, or brownouts from storms or extreme temperatures, a battery backup power system is also recommended.
A Battery Backup System is designed to administer steady power, protecting your medical-grade refrigerators and freezers from blackouts, brownouts, dirty power sources, and other expected or unexpected power failures. Varying by the type of power you desire, battery backup systems help you have peace of mind during unforeseen power outages, mechanical failures, and human errors. A variety of systems are available depending on the power system you desire. Below are a few features of the medical-grade cold storage Battery Backup:
- Independent voltage regulator
- Built-in isolation transformers
- 6W-30KW of power phase conditioning
- Plug and play adaptability
- Small footprint design
- Reliable functionality
Tips for Managing an Active Power Outage
- Monitor temperatures inside your unit throughout the outage. Set up text alerts from your external data logger to help you keep you informed during an outage. Unless there is an extended outage and internal temperatures rise, do not remove any products in a medical refrigerator or freezer affected by the temporary outage. Each door opening will cause a sharp temperature change. Also, the products act as a thermal buffer, delaying temperature rise in an unpowered unit, and can save life on the battery backup powered unit.
- Do not open the door(s) during the power outage, especially if you are not on a backup system. If you are on a backup system, open the door early to retrieve items you may need or to organize items for quick retrieval in case of an extended power outage that could exceed your battery backup time frame.
- If you have advanced warning, arrange for alternative storage with reliable power sources and transfer if possible. If transferring to another facility is the best option, record all temperatures during the cold chain transfer. It is best to write your emergency plan before a power outage.
- Avoid opening units to check the temperature during the power outage. Instead, it is a good idea to record the temperature as soon as power is restored or during the outage via an external data logger. We recommend using a data logger with an onboard battery backup. Be sure to test and change the batteries as needed and keep spare batteries on hand.
Backup Temperature Monitoring Device – Data Logger
A requirement by the CDC states that every vaccine storage unit needs to have a thermal monitoring device. A digital data logger is recommended because it continuously records temperatures and provides accurate and detailed temperature logs. At least once a week, inspect and evaluate temperature data to monitor trends and establish that vaccines have not been exposed to out-of-range temperatures. Further, keep the data collected for up to three years in the event of an audit.
Once Power is Restored
Record the temperature and the length of the power outage as soon as power has come back on. Continue this until temperature reaches normal desired temperature range. Be sure to record the duration of the excursion and the maximum temperature observed.
- Remember to keep exposed vaccines separate from new vaccines.
- Do not administer until you have consulted with state or local health departments.
- Do not discard any assets that may have been exposed to fluctuating temperatures until the excursion has been deemed catastrophic for the payload item.
Investing in a Battery Backup System
Whether you are a research facility, hospital, pharmacy, or laboratory preserving your payload is essential to saving money. Power outages are something every facility will deal with at one point or another, and having a system in place to ensure the safety of your products is critical. Reimbursement for discarded products may not be possible depending on many factors.
If you live in an area with frequent power outages or are affected by severe weather-related outages, you can track live utility outages state by state using Generac Power Outage Central.
In addition, K2 Scientific provides FDA-approved medical refrigerators and freezers. For more information, contact one of our team members at 800-218-7613, option 1. We want to be a resource to our medical and pharmaceutical partners in their efforts to preserve public health.