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Staying Safe and Warm During a Winter Storm

Date: December 06, 2018
Topics: Press Releases

(ADA, OK) — In a winter storm emergency, restoring power and heat to our members is the highest priority, and PEC’s crews will work around the clock to restore service. Even so, it can take days to repair the devastating damage of a winter storm. If you are in the midst of storm recovery, avoid going outside if possible. Downed power lines could be submerged in snow and ice and difficult to identify. When outside, treat all downed and hanging lines as if they are energized electric lines: Stay away, warn others to stay away and immediately contact PEC.

Remember that downed power lines do NOT have to be arcing, sparking or moving to be live and deadly.  “Heavy snow and accumulating ice can easily bring tree limbs down onto power lines, cutting off power to homes and businesses,” says John Lowrey, Safe Electricity Advisory Board member. “To be truly prepared, you need more than supplies. You need to know what to do when a storm strikes.”


If power lines go down because of a winter storm and the electricity goes out, you may be in for a prolonged power outage as utility crews work to get the lights back on.


The National Weather Service tells us that winter storms are deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to storms. Many hazards can remain after a winter storm is gone.

Safe Electricity offers tips on how to stay warm during a winter power outage:

• Stay inside, and dress warm.

• Close off unneeded rooms and place draft blocks at the bottom of doors to minimize cold air entering the house.

• Cover windows at night. 

• Be aware of the temperature in your home. Infants and elderly people are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends or relatives or go to a shelter if you cannot keep your home warm.

• To protect your circuits and appliances when the power is restored, switch off lights and unplug appliances. Leave one light switched on as a quick reminder that the power is restored.

“A power line does not need to be sparking or arcing to be energized,” Lowrey says. “It’s best to assume all low and downed lines are energized and dangerous. Lines that appear to be dead can become energized as crews work to restore power, or sometimes from improper use of emergency generators.”

If you use a standby generator for temporary power, make sure it has a transfer safety switch to cut off at the breaker box before you operate it. If you use a portable generator, never plug it into a wall outlet.  These precautions prevent back feed, which is when electricity travels from the generator back through the power lines. Back feed creates danger for anyone near lines, particularly crews working to restore power.

If you are a motorist caught out in the storm, never drive over a downed line because that could pull down the pole and other equipment, causing additional hazards. If you see a downed line, do not get out of your car. The safest place is inside the vehicle. Contact PEC immediately.

Be sure to have a storm preparedness kit ready before a storm strikes to help get you and your family through a power outage. This kit includes: bottled water, non-perishable food, blankets, warm clothing, first aid kit/medicine, flashlight, radio, extra batteries, and toiletries.

If you are using an alternative heating source during a power outage, be sure to know how to use it safely and that you have all supplies for it gathered. You should have enough supplies in your preparedness kit to last three to seven days.

For more information on electrical safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

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