General Outage Tips
It takes at least two things to get through the adverse effects of a severe storm - preparation and patience. Not only can they make an uncomfortable situation tolerable, sometimes they also may actually save your life.
- Check all circuit breakers or fuses to help determine if your service outage might be the result of a household problem.
- If you have significant water damage in your home, call an electrician. DO NOT stand in water or on a wet floor while touching or checking electrical equipment!
- Inspect the area outside your home near the meter. If the meter or any of the conduit and wires on the wall of your home or office are gone or look damaged, call an electrician.
- Turn off your major appliances so that you can start them gradually once power is restored to avoid damage to sensitive equipment. Leave one light turned on so you will know when your power is restored.
By following these suggestions, you will be as ready as anyone can be to handle the unexpected knocks of a nasty storm:
Stay away from downed power lines -- Don't drive over downed lines, and if a downed line is in or near water, keep your distance from the water, even a little puddle. And whether a power line is down or not, don't touch anything that might be in contact with it - like a tree limb for example.
Report downed wires
Never touch a downed wire regardless of how harmless it looks! Stay away from it and keep others away, too. Report it immediately to Firelands Electric Cooperative. And, call the local police or fire department. During a severe storm with many areas affected, it could take some time for us to make repairs, and police or firemen may guard the downed line.
Check medications that require refrigeration -- Be sure you know if they will be affected by a prolonged interruption of power. You might want to talk with your pharmacist. You also might want to keep a small cooler handy.
Do not open the freezer during a power outage. Opening the door or lid shortens the time that food will stay frozen. A well-filled freezer will maintain frozen food for 24 to 48 hours, depending on room temperature and loading. (A full freezer will stay colder longer than one that is half full.)
To prepare for a possible outage in advance of a severe storm forecast, freeze water in slightly under filled plastic jugs and use them to fill empty spaces. Or, purchase ice to fill your freezer.
In warm weather the refrigerator will become warm quickly despite your efforts to avoid opening the door. So, use perishable foods as soon as possible. In winter, outdoor temperatures will provide good refrigeration. Or, freeze a jug of water overnight and put it in the refrigerator to help keep foods cool.
Put refrigerators and freezers at their coldest settings -- Do this a half day or so before the storm is forecast to hit. Keep a blanket handy to throw over these appliances for added insulation, if need be. And be sure to return the settings to their normal position as soon as the crisis has passed.
Turn off major appliances and unplug sensitive electronic equipment
Turn off electrical appliances which were operating at the time the power went off. Leave on one light so you'll know when service has been restored. Don't turn on everything at once. This will permit the power to be put back on line without being knocked off again by the automatic limiting devices that protect our system from overloads.
Voltage irregularities can occur for any number of reasons during or after a storm, especially if there has been damage on or near your home. The safest thing to do is to unplug any sensitive electrical devices, such as the TV, VCR, stereo, microwave, computer, answering machine and garage door opener. Planning ahead, you might wish to consider surge suppressors.
Water Supply -- This is vital if you depend on a water pump that might be disabled during a storm. Sanitize and fill spare containers with water for drinking. Fill your bathtub with water for use in the toilet. A bucket of water poured in the toilet bowl is all that's needed for flushing. If you don't have an adequate supply of water to save and are unable to get enough from friends or neighbors, call local officials to ask about nearby water sources.
Take steps to prevent water damage -- As outside temperatures dip below zero, residents without power should turn the water off, drain pipes and turn the water heater off. If water is not drained, pressure will build up and could possibly cause pipes to burst. Or, homeowners can also allow the water to trickle from faucets for a constant water flow during the outage. To drain pipes, turn off the water heater and main water supply and keep all faucets open in the house. Also, drain all toilets by holding the lever down until the tank empties. Open cabinet doors that encase pipes to allow any heat in the home to get to the pipes.
Be prepared to cook outside -- You might wish to use your backyard grill for cooking. However, please beware! Do not bring the grill indoors. A grill without proper ventilation can be deadly. It is possible to use Sterno or a comparable fuel indoors to heat food.
Stock up on batteries and easy-to-prepare food -- Give yourself the greatest flexibility in meal preparation, and the greatest comfort once the sun goes down. Don't forget flashlights (one for each person in your family), batteries and a manual can opener.
Prepare alternative sources of heat -- Even a gas or oil furnace needs electricity to operate, so if you have a fireplace or wood stove as an alternative heat source, be sure you have enough wood. If you have no alternative heat, find out where an emergency shelter will be, if it is needed. Call your local fire or police department or local Red Cross chapter.
Have an evacuation plan -- Ice storms can lead to outages of two weeks or longer, and you might need to leave your home. Be sure to fill your tank before the storm hits. What's more, your automobile can be a place to get warm - do not operate it inside your garage and don't sleep while the motor is running.
Plan to live without everyday tools that need electricity -- Your garage door opener, for example. Be sure you know how to get the door open and shut manually. And if you keep your cellar free from flooding by using an electric sump pump, consider installing a battery powered back-up pump.
Keep a battery-operated radio handy -- Be ready to stay informed of the storm's progress, as well as safety tips and clean-up operations. Don't forget fresh batteries.
Electrically-powered life support equipment
If someone in your household relies on electrically-powered critical life-support equipment, contact Firelands Electric Cooperative. We cannot guarantee uninterruptible service, but we need this information so that special attention can be given to restoring electric service in case of an outage. You may also want to consider temporary precautionary measures such as moving the patient to a hospital or contacting local police or fire departments for emergency equipment.
The decision to invest in emergency generating equipment is a personal judgment based on one's own need for uninterrupted service. Owning your own generator is ideal, but installing it is not a do-it-yourself project. We strongly recommend that you have a qualified electrician install an emergency generator according to the National Electrical Code and local ordinances.
If you use an emergency generator, make sure it has a manual or automatic double-throw switch that disconnects it from main power lines. This is a legal requirement. A generator that remains connected to main power lines can back feed power into them, shocking unsuspecting utility workers. A direct-connected generator also may result in a fire when the main power is restored.
- Don't operate generators, lanterns, heaters or fuel-fired cook stoves inside your home or garage.
- Do not burn charcoal indoors because it releases carbon monoxide.
- Always refuel outside away from flames or sparks.
- Don't store fuel inside your home.
- Wipe up fuel spills immediately.
- Don't allow children to carry candles or oil lamps around the house. A fall could spell disaster!