Wayne Livingston 2019

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. Your home should be properly insulated, with caulking and weather stripping around doors, windows and other cracks. If you have tree 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. If a storm hits and you are without power, the tips below will help to keep you and your family safe.

• 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.

• 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.

• Cover windows at night and keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants or persons over age 65 are more susceptible to the cold.

• 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.

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