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Old Man Winter Hits Across the Country

Heavy accumulations of ice and snow coupled with fluctuating winter temperatures can bring down utility poles, trees and limbs with the ability to disrupt power for days on end. With this comes a threat to property and also to life itself.

Utilities are devoted to restoring power to customers, but severe damage can take days or weeks to repair. Safe Electricity wants you to know how to stay safe and comfortable during winter power outages. Preparation for power outages begins before cold temperatures set in. You home should be properly insulated, with caulking and weather-striping around doors, windows, and other cracks. If you have trees with limbs that could fall on power lines, the limbs should be trimmed by a professional.

You should also have an emergency kit ready to go. The kit should have flashlights, a radio, batteries, nonperishable food, water, medicines, and extra blankets.

If you have done all this preparation, a winter power outage will be less stressful for you. When a storm hits and you are without power, keep the following in mind:

Avoid going outside. Power lines and other energized equipment could be hidden by snow, ice and debris.

Treat all downed lines as energized, and dangerous. Downed power lines do not have to be sparking, arcing or moving to be dangerous.

  • Switch off lights and appliances to prevent damaging appliances and overloading circuits when power is restored. Leave one lamp or light switch on as a signal for when your power returns.
  • To prevent water pipes from freezing, keep faucets turned on slightly so that water drips from the tap. Know how to shut off water valves just in case a pipe bursts.
  • Check on elderly or disabled friends and neighbors.
  • Stay inside and dress in warm, layered clothing.
  • Close off unneeded rooms.
  • When using an alternative heat source, follow operating instructions, use fire safeguards and be sure to properly ventilate. Always keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.
  • Stuff towels and rags underneath doors to keep the heat in.
  • Cover windows at night.
  • Keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants or persons over age 65 are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends, relatives or in a shelter if you can’t keep your home warm.
  • Consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) for electrical outlets in areas that might be affected by melting snow or ice. This will help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs that do not require tools for installation can also be purchased for winter emergency supply kits.

Safe Electricity hopes you will not have to endure an extended power outage this winter. If you do, a little knowledge and preparation can make the experience less stressful.