What to Do When the Power Goes Out

Any number of things can cause a power outage during the winter months. In the Big Bear area power loss is usually weather-related.

If caused by the weather the outage could be wide-spread or it could be localized.

It is important to first check to make sure you have not blown a circuit or a fuse which can be done by checking the circuit breakers or fuses in your home’s electrical panel.

If power is out in the entire entire neighborhood call your local utility company to report the outage. The phone number should be on your electricity bill or check the white pages in your phone book.

I have an old phone to plug into the jack if the power is lost because portables will not work if you lose power. In many cases, you can find these old phones at garage sales and I recommend you have one on hand just in case of an emergency.

If power is out over a widespread area, it may take a longer time to restore power everywhere and in rare cases it can be out for days.

Here are a few tips from the Consumer Energy Center:

* UNLESS there is an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. That number should ONLY be used if there is an emergency, or if someone is injured or in danger.

* If there are power lines down in your neighborhood, do call 9-1-1 and call your utility company. DO NOT GO NEAR DOWNED POWER LINES.

* Listen to your battery-powered radio or TV, especially for news at the top of each hour, to find out when the power might be restored.

* Dress to stay warm – wear layers, including a sweater, sweatshirt or even a jacket. You lose heat through your hands and the top of your head. Wear gloves and a knit hat, not just a baseball cap.

* Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. Food inside should stay cold for hours if the door is left closed.

* If you’re cold, take a warm shower – to increase your body temperature. Your hot water tank, even if electric, will stay warm for a few hours.

* Unplug some of your major appliances. When the power comes back on, all of those appliances can create a drain or power surge. This can harm sensitive equipment. To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, stereos and other unnecessary electronic equipment at the power source. Leave a light on so you’ll know when the power is restored.

* If you have a generator, do not connect it to your home’s power system unless it has been properly installed and disconnects you from the main power grid when it is operating. If you do not disconnect from the power grid, you can be sending electricity back down the lines; not just to your home. That could be deadly for power company workers.

* If you have a regular wood stove or fireplace, you can use it for heat. However, DO NOT USE kerosene heaters, BBQs, or any outdoor type heater inside. Such devices create poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas given off by combustion and could kill.

* Check on your elderly neighbors or those who may have medical conditions or use medical machinery that operates on electricity. Make sure they are dressed appropriately warm. If someone needs to have machinery that operates on electricity, move her to a place where electricity is working.

* If you have to go out, drive carefully. Remember that traffic signals may be out during a power outage. Consider each intersection to be a four-way stop and drive defensively.

Locals use the seven days candles and the old style oil lamps (kerosene) for light and many have generators for emergencies or solar panels to assist running electronic devices.

Remember if you are using a pellet stove remember that your pellets will not feed when the power is out so be sure to get a back up power source.

Once, the was on a ski lift during an outage so even if the weather is good, make sure to dress in layers.

Fortunately, the local ski resorts handle such issues efficiently so the issue was of minor concern!

Just remember, a little bit of preparation goes a long way to keeping your warm and comfortable.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2008 and is filed under Small Town Living.

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