Damaging spring storms that can disrupt electrical service to homes and businesses are a fact of life in Southern Illinois. Utility companies continually prepare for unavoidable storm outages to ensure service is restored as quickly as possible; however, there are steps homeowners can take as well to make sure they’re prepared for – and stay safe – during storm-related power outages. We offer the following tips and suggestions:
There are a handful of tasks homeowners can do to prepare for a storm beforehand, such as assemble an emergency kit that is easily accessible. It should include a battery-powered radio or television, a flashlight with extra batteries, candles and matches or a lighter, a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, bottled water, non-perishable food and a can opener. Make sure you have recently changed the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Homeowners should keep a corded or cell phone on hand because cordless telephones need electricity to operate. One should learn how to manually open automatic garage doors. Homeowners who depend on electrically powered medical equipment should ask their physician about a battery back-up system. If one is elderly, or has a medical condition that would be adversely impacted by a power outage, he or she should develop an emergency plan that allows for alternative accommodations with family or friends. Those who depend on a well for drinking water should definitely have bottled water on hand.
During a storm, additional precautions should be followed. Stay at least ten feet away from downed power lines and anything that they may be touching, especially metal fences. Treat every downed power line as if it were energized. Keep children and pets out of the area.
Downed power lines should be reported immediately to the utility company so the hazard can be assessed and marked off until repair crews arrive. Ameren Illinois customers should report power outages, and down lines, to Ameren’s website, or call 1-800-755-5000. Southwest Electric Cooperative customers should report power outages or down lines by calling 1-800-262-0326. Don’t assume they know your power is out. After a power outage is reported, the utility company can assess the extent of the damage and dispatch crews to make the necessary repairs.
If you lose power, don’t open refrigerators and freezers more often than absolutely necessary. A closed refrigerator will stay cold for twelve hours. Kept closed, a well-filled freezer will preserve food for two days. Partially thawed food or food that has ice crystals usually can be refrozen. Never use a gas range for heating, or charcoal as an indoor heating or cooking source during a power outage. Turn off or unplug all appliances to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored. Tiger provides whole house surge protectors to prevent overloads and surges at the main panel. Leave on one light switch to indicate when power is restored.
If using a portable generator, disconnect house circuits from utility power lines. Pull or switch to “off” all main fuses or circuit breakers to protect line crews working to restore service. Always operate generators outdoors to avoid dangerous buildup of toxic fumes. During low-voltage conditions, such as “brownouts” – when lights are dim and television pictures are smaller – shut off motor-driven appliances such as refrigerators to prevent possible damage. Sensitive electronic devices also should be unplugged. Stay out of flooded or damp basements or other areas if water is in contact with outlets or any electrically-operated appliance. The water or moisture may serve as a conductor of electricity. This can cause serious or even fatal injury.
To learn more about our storm preparedness products, or to schedule an electrical safety assessment of your home, contact the professionals at Tiger Electrical Services today by calling 1-866-844-3770 or visiting www.TrustTiger.com.
Content Sources: Ameren Illinois and Southwest Electric Cooperative
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