YOUR OUTAGE SAFETY PLAN
Winter storms can cause widespread damage to electrical distribution systems. Wind gusts and freezing rain may break branches, topple trees, and snap powerlines and utility poles. While Southwestern linemen work around the clock to restore power, even with the aid of contract crews, large scale repairs take time to complete; an outage may last for days.
Develop a plan to weather an extended outage safely. Your plan may be as simple as making arrangements to stay with a friend or family member (who lives on a different circuit) during an outage. If friends and family aren’t nearby, look into purchasing a generator.
Investing in a generator is the most reliable way to ensure you always have electricity. Be diligent about observing the precautions outlined in the instruction manual, and please review our generator safety article on this site.
Consider the following items as you develop your outage safety plan.
The ability to communicate during an outage is vital. Keep your cellular phone fully charged and handy. If you don’t own a mobile phone, consider buying one with an economy plan to use in an emergency. If you usually rely on a cordless phone with a base, keep in mind, it probably won’t work during an outage. Traditional corded phones usually operate during outages.
Electric pumps mounted to wells won’t function without electricity. If you depend on a well for water, store plenty of extra water in case of a prolonged power outage. Water is a key ingredient of your emergency supply kit.
If you already have an emergency supply kit, take a few minutes now to make sure it’s stocked and your supplies are fresh. If you don’t have a kit, spend some time assembling one today.
Your kit should include:
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day).
- High-calorie, non-perishable food items such as dried fruit or energy bars.
- A blanket or sleeping bag.
- A change of clothing and footwear per family member.
- A first aid kit, including prescription medicines.
- Emergency tools, including a battery-powered National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio and portable radio, flashlight, and plenty of batteries.
- An extra set of car keys and a credit card or cash.
- Any special items needed by an infant, elderly, or disabled family member.
- Telephone numbers for medical emergencies, law enforcement, family members, and friends who may be able to offer assistance.
- Your Southwestern Electric Cooperative account number and the co-op’s phone number: (800) 637-8667.
WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT
- Check in with neighbors to see if you’re the only home without service. If you are, check your electrical box for tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. If you can’t source your outage to your electrical box or your neighbors are also without power, call Southwestern Electric at (800) 637-8667. The line is staffed 24 hours per day. Your call will be answered by a Southwestern Electric employee or a representative of the co-op’s emergency response service.
- Don’t rely on e-mail to contact the cooperative during an outage or other emergency. While our phones are constantly monitored, our e-mail isn’t.
- During an outage, it’s a good idea to unplug or switch off lights and electric appliances, leaving on a light or two so you’ll know when power is restored. Doing so will help you avoid overloading a circuit when the electricity comes on. After your power is restored, turn on appliances and electrical devices one at a time.
BEWARE OF DOWNED POWER LINES
After a storm, be alert for downed power lines. Tree limbs and debris may disguise deadly electrical hazards. Treat all downed or hanging power lines as if they’re energized. If you spot a downed or low-hanging line, warn others to stay away and report the location to Southwestern Electric immediately.