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What to do in the event of a power outage

Written by Tim Lambert, WITF Multimedia News Director | Jan 22, 2016 10:35 AM
winter_power_outage.jpg

FILE PHOTO: (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

(Undated) -- Utilities are bracing for potential problems during the storm.

Paul Wirth, a spokesman for PPL Electric, says fallen tree limbs present the biggest problem for crews since the weight of snow and ice along with wind can bring them down onto power lines.

He says downed lines are dangerous.

"The very first thing to keep in mind is stay away from any downed power line," he says. "Always assume that a power line on the ground could be live and you absolutely have to stay safe by being away from that."

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission says in the event of a power outage, people should contact their utility and not 9-1-1, and turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer.

"Preparation is essential, so take a few minutes before the storm hits to address some key items like making note of utility company hotlines, charging your cell phone and securing necessary food, medicine and other supplies," says Chairman Gladys Brown.

The PUC says it works with utilities across the state and notes several  are putting their storm response plans into motion with crews and equipment being positioned for quick response to outages.

PPL's Paul Wirth offers some advice ahead of the storm.

"These days, the most important thing is to make sure your cell phones and other electronic devices are charged and that you have, perhaps, an alternative source of heat or have a plan in case you would need to experience an extended outage," he says. "We also recommend having an emergency kit prepared with flashlight, batteries..that sort of thing."

The PUC is highliting several other pre-storm tips:

     -- Write down, print or save toll-free "outage reporting hotlines" to your cell phone

      -- Save the Internet address for your utility's outage reporting system, which can provide an interactive picture of ongoing repair efforts.

       -- Check social media, like Facebook and Twitter, for utility updates and important storm-related information. While many utilities use social media to highlight important information, consumers should not use social media to report outages or share account information, addresses or other personal information. Instead, always call the official utility outage hotline. 

In the event of an outage, the PUC also recommends the following:

     -- When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment. After you turn the lights off, turn one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
         Only use a flashlight or battery-operated lanterns for emergency lighting. Do not use candles or other potential fire hazards.

     --  If you are going to use a generator, do not run it inside a home or garage. Also, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator, not your home's electrical                    system, which could shock or injure utility crews working on nearly power lines. Additional generator tips are available here.

     -- Do not touch or get near any fallen lines, and stay away from objects or puddles in contact with downed power lines. If you have a downed power line or another hazardous situation, call 9-1-1 and contact your utility.

     -- Do not try to remove trees or limbs from power lines.

     -- Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs who might need additional assistance.

Here is how to report outages or check out outages in your area:

PPL Electric 

     1-800-DIAL-PPL (1-800-342-5775)

     Outage map

Adams Electric:

     1-800-726-2324 

     Outage map

Met Ed/First Energy

     1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877)

     Outage map

UGI

      1-800- 276-2722 

      Outage map

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