Advance preparations and safety tips for winter power outages
by Rocky Mountain Power
November 22, 2010
Delivering safe, reliable electric service is Rocky Mountain Power’s continual focus. However, conditions outside of the utility’s control, such as severe weather, accidents and other unpredictable situations, can cause power outages despite the company’s best preparations.
Customers are encouraged to take precautions before the next storm arrives to stay safe during a power outage.
"We work hard to avoid power outages, but when bad weather strikes and outages occur, we work even harder to restore power safely and quickly," said Mike Felice, Rocky Mountain Power safety director. "Just as our crews are prepared to respond to outages, we ask our customers to be prepared to help ensure the safety and well-being of their families."
Assemble a preparedness kit to help in the event of any kind of emergency, including the following items:
• a flashlight;
• non-perishable foods;
• a manual can opener;
• bottled water;
• a battery-operated radio and clock; and
• extra batteries.
If someone in your home is on life support equipment, be sure to have a back-up system and a plan of action for an outage.
During a power outage:
• First check fuses and circuit breakers. If the power failure is not caused inside the home or business, customers should report the outage to Rocky Mountain Power by calling toll free at 1-877-508-5088.
• Never use kerosene or propane heaters inside without proper ventilation. They create dangerous fumes. Also, don’t ever burn charcoal in your house or garage.
• Make sure generators are properly wired for your home or business, and don’t connect a generator directly to your home’s main fuse box or circuit breaker panel without having a properly installed transfer switch. This will protect customer equipment and prevent a backfeed hazard for the public and the utility line crews.
• Don’t operate a portable generator inside your home or garage. Always properly ventilate a portable generator. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide and the fumes can be deadly. As an added protection, ensure that carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are installed and working properly.
• As much as possible, do not open refrigerators and freezers – they will keep food and perishables inside cold for a longer period of time if not opened.
• Preserve body heat by wearing multiple layers of clothing. Add a hat and blanket to stay warm. Blankets and towels around windows and doors help keep the heat inside.
• Protect your pipes during freezing weather by wrapping them with insulation. Also, leave faucets dripping so water won’t freeze and crack the pipes.
• Turn on your porch light when power is back in service. After crews complete repairs, they patrol the area of the power failure to see if lights are on.
Power lines carry high voltage electricity that can cause serious injury or death if you get too close. Winter storms, high winds and accidents occasionally cause downed power lines, presenting a potentially dangerous situation for anyone in the area.
"Staying away from downed power lines, acting quickly to keep others out of the area, and immediately notifying Rocky Mountain Power or emergency responders can prevent serious injury and save lives," said Felice.
If you see a downed power line:
• Stay far away from all downed power lines and utility lines. Even if the lines are not sparking, they could still be electrified and extremely dangerous.
• Keep everyone, including pets, out of the area and report the downed line to Rocky Mountain Power, by calling toll free at 1-888-221-7070.
• Never touch a person or object that is touching a power line. Call 911 immediately if someone is in contact with a live power line or has been injured by electrical contact.
• Don’t drive over downed power lines.
• If a power line falls across your vehicle while you are in it, stay inside and wait for emergency personnel to cut the power. Warn others to stay away from the vehicle.
• If your car is on fire and you must exit, jump - with both feet together - as far from the car as possible. Do not touch the car and the ground at the same time! Land with both feet still together and hop with both feet touching until you are a safe distance away (at least 30 feet).
For more outage preparation and safety tips, and other electrical safety information, visit www.rockymountainpower.net/safety.