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Power Outage - Tips

Power outages can occur for a variety of reasons. Lightning, high wind, ice, and adventuresome animals are among the most common. Other times, power may be lost due to a contractor or homeowner severing underground cables, a motorist striking a utility pole, or mechanical problems with utility equipment.

Whatever the cause, outages are, at best, inconvenient and we do everything we can to prevent them. In spite of our best efforts, however, outages will occur on occasion.

Plan Ahead:

  • Prepare an emergency kit that includes a battery-operated radio, alarm clock, flashlights, extra batteries, candles, matches, blankets, a corded telephone (cordless phones won't work without electricity), manual can opener, blankets, and first-aid supplies.
  • Tell your children and caregivers where the emergency kit is stored and what to do in the event of a power outage or other emergency.
  • Keep a supply of drinking water and non-perishable food on hand.
  • For warm weather seasons, keep shades drawn to cool your home.
  • For cold weather seasons, consider planning alternate methods of heating. Have fuel in advance and stored properly.

Protect Electrical Equipment:

  • When weather conditions are right for a power outage, such as during a storm, unplug electrical equipment and appliances. This will avoid damage that can be caused by lightning, or from variations in the voltage that can occur when power is restored after an outage. Warning: Do not unplug electrical cords if you are wet or are standing in water unless you know the power is off and will remain off until you are in a safe place.
  • Protect electrical equipment from damage that can be caused by variation in voltage by purchasing surge protection devices that are adequate for the type of equipment being protected. Consider having a licensed electrician install a "whole-house" surge protection device. Also consider purchasing a battery-backup system (uninterruptible power supply) for critical or sensitive equipment.

Electrical Safety During Power Outages

Downed power lines and restoration of electrical power can present some seriously hazardous situations. Please read on for important safety information . . . and pass it on to your family and friends.

Downed Power Lines

  • STAY AWAY – not only from downed power lines but also from objects touching a downed line (like a fence, tree or other object). Assume any downed wire is energized, as even a wire laying perfectly silent and still may have high voltage running through it.
  • Report downed lines to us at 376-7656 and if anyone is in imminent danger, also call 911. Let experienced response personnel handle the situation safely.
  • Whether you are a professional tree contractor or a neighbor helping a neighbor, stay clear of areas where there are downed power lines or tree branches in suspended power lines.
  • If you are near a downed power line, or something touching a downed line, DO NOT WALK OR RUN. Why? Electricity travels through the ground in all directions. The voltage decreases the further you are away from the downed wire. If you walk or run, you could conduct electricity in one leg at one voltage into the other leg at another voltage. This could shock or kill you. SO KEEP BOTH FEET ON THE GROUND AND SHUFFLE WITH YOUR LEGS CLOSE TOGETHER as you move away from the downed line.
  • Be aware that downed lines can be lying in puddles or flooded areas – stay away.
  • Do not touch someone who is being shocked by a downed line – you could be killed.
  • Visibility of potential electrical hazards can be difficult during the day, and even more so at night.
  • If a line falls on your car, drive away if you can. If you can’t, stay inside until trained help arrives. Avoid touching any metal parts inside or outside your vehicle. If anyone begins to approach, warn them to stay away and not to touch your car – they could be killed. If you absolutely have to get out because of a fire in your vehicle or other danger, JUMP out of the vehicle without touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Then shuffle with your legs close together to move away from the vehicle. If you have a young child or infant in the vehicle with you and you must get out, hold them tight to your body while you hop out of the vehicle. Again, do not touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time or you will become the electricity’s path to the ground.
Our Response
  • You can be assured our crews will report responsibly to your call. Hazards and emergencies that jeopardize safety will be our top priority. Next, main power lines and major equipment will be repaired. Trouble-shooting of secondary lines and equipment will follow. You can count on us to restore your power as quickly as possible. We also have the ability to activate our mutual aid and disaster plan by bringing in crews from Plymouth Utilities and Asplundh Tree Trimmers to help due to the extent of the damage.
  • The wires and/or conduit running up and down out of the electric meter are owned by the property owner. If these wires and/or conduit have been damaged, the owner will need to have repairs made by a licensed electrician before we will be able to restore power.
Water in the Basement
  • Assume water that is in contact with an electrical outlet or appliance is energized.
  • If you are wet, never touch electric cords, switches or appliances.
  • Stay out of a basement that has standing water unless you are certain the power has been disconnected and will remain disconnected until you have returned to a safe location. Keep in mind the fact that even if your home is temporarily without power, utility crews will be working to restore power. You must contact an electrician to physically terminate the connection of power to your home in order to ensure your safety.
  • Don’t run extension cords through a wet basement.
Sump Pumps
  • Will your sump pump work when the power is out? Will you be home to bail the water if the sump pump doesn’t work or can’t keep up with the volume of water coming in? Here is some information to help you through.
  • Although sump pumps can be purchased with battery backups, this is not necessarily a standard feature. Battery backups help to ensure your sump pump will operate during a power outage. The typical sump pump with a deep cycle battery backup should run on battery about eight continuous hours.
  • If your sump pump is inoperable and you have to bail or pump water from the crock to keep your basement from flooding, it is best to dispose of the water outside, away from your foundation instead of dumping it down the floor drain or into a laundry tub. This will help eliminate the possibility of sanitary sewer backups as water from the floor drain and laundry tubs are directed to the sanitary sewer and an overload of this facility can result in sewer backups.
Generators
  • NEVER connect a portable generator to your home’s wiring without a transfer switch, or it could feed electricity back into the power lines and seriously injure or kill you or utility workers.
  • Understand the capabilities of your generator. An overloaded generator can be hazardous.
  • Only operate generators outdoors.
  • Keep a supply of generator fuel and any other necessary supplies safely on hand.
  • Ask us for information that will help you operate your generator safely.
Additional Information

To learn more about what you can do to prepare in case of emergency including signing up for weather alerts, visit the American Public Power Association website by clicking here.