Prepare for Power Outages
Stearns Electric Association has a strong reliability record. However, there are many reasons why even the best utilities experience outages. Storms producing trees that have fallen on overhead lines, vehicle accidents and squirrels pose the most common challenges.
TIPS TO PREPARE FOR A POWER OUTAGE
Before an Outage:
- Update the phone number and e-mail address on your Stearns Electric account so you can be served faster in the event of an outage.
- Stay tuned to weather forecasts.
- Make sure your emergency outage kit is fully stocked and easily accessible.
- Develop an emergency plan that addresses any special medical needs you or your family members have. If you or a family member requires some form of life-support, make sure you are on the Cooperative’s Critical Medical Account list before an outage occurs. You may also consider obtaining a backup source of power if the power does go out for an extended period. Keep your backup generator in good condition and test it periodically.
- Purchase appliances with built-in surge protection or install surge protectors to help safeguard valuable electronic equipment such as computers and home entertainment systems. Plug computers and other sensitive equipment into a separate, grounded circuit to isolate them from fluctuations caused when a major appliance restarts (such as your room air conditioner or refrigerator). Consider having a lightning arrester installed at your main circuit panel.
Have an outage kit prepared ahead of time, containing the following items:
Candles and matches (never leave a candle unattended)
Standard touch-tone phone (not cordless) and a fully charged cell phone
First aid kit
If Your Power Goes Out:
- Report your outage immediately. Do not rely on your neighbors to report your outage.
- Stay away from downed power lines, flooded areas and debris. Treat all fallen wires and anything touching them as though they are energized and immediately report downed lines.
- Turn off all appliances, including your furnace, air conditioner, water heater and water pump. Leave on one lamp to know when power has been restored. That way you can avoid a circuit overload and another outage that may result when power is restored to all appliances at once.
- Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed. A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours. For refrigerated items, pack milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy and spoil-able leftovers into a cooler surrounded by ice. Inexpensive styrofoam coolers are also fine for this purpose.
- Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Listen to the local radio station on your battery-operated radio for regular news and weather updates. Follow Stearns Electric on Facebook for regular outage updates.
- Make sure your area is sufficiently ventilated if using portable stoves, kerosene heaters or lanterns.
- Avoid travel if possible, but If you must, please help protect line workers and crews when you see them on the roadside making emergency repairs. Move over from the lane nearest the workers or slow down until you can safely pass the work site.
- When it is hot outside, close drapes and blinds on the sunny side of your house, drink plenty of fluids, take your pets to a cool basement location or go to an air-conditioned civic center, mall or library if necessary to stay cool.
- When it is cold outside, open your blinds during the day, cover windows with drapes at night, avoid alcoholic beverages and gather in a central room where there is an alternative heat source, such as a fireplace or kerosene space heater. If the indoor temperature drops to 55°F or below, open your faucets slightly so they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
- Do not hesitate to contact a physician if you have any health-related questions.