Weather in the Midwest can be unpredictable, especially during the winter months. That’s why you should prepare for dangerous situations before a storm hits.
It is especially important to develop a plan for prolonged power outages during these harsh months. Heavy snows, freezing rain and ice storms can all create electrical hazards.
Snow and ice often accumulate on power lines. The added weight may cause lines to snap off the poles or cause the poles to break. That can bring power lines into contact with the ground, trees, homes, vehicles and other objects. If people or pets come in contact with a live power line, they can suffer serious injury or even death.
Please NEVER approach a downed line, as it could be energized. Always call 911 first and STAY BACK. If you are involved in a vehicle accident with a utility pole and downed wires, STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE until help arrives.
Due to these dangerous conditions, many residents may be confined to their homes for days at a time. That’s why it is important to have a plan in place, especially during these prolonged outages. To better prepare you and your family for a power outage, your electric co-op recommends members keep a storm preparedness kit fully stocked with enough supplies for three days.
The basic supplies in this kit should include:
- Bottled water
- Non-perishable food
- Emergency blankets
- First aid kit/medicine
- Battery-operated or hand-crank radio
- Extra batteries
Visit goiec.org/3muM9Ae for more tips from the American Red Cross about how to build an emergency kit.
Now that your family is prepared for a prolonged outage, what should you do if the lights do go out?
- First off, report your outage online through your SmartHub account (learn about SmartHub and all its capabilities here).
- Next, keep warm air in and cool air out by not opening doors to unused rooms. Do not open doors to the outdoors unless necessary.
- Food safety is also important when there is a prolonged outage. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible, and eat perishable food first. If you know a winter storm is coming, stock up on ice so you can keep things in coolers to keep them from going bad if an outage lasts longer than a day. Once the refrigerator reaches temperatures higher than 40 degrees Farhrenheit, foods can become unsafe to eat.
To protect your home’s electrical equipment during an outage, turn off and unplug all unnecessary electronics or appliances. This will keep equipment from being damaged by surges or spikes when the power returns.
Sources: Electrical Safety Authority, Popular Mechanics