ARE YOU PREPARED FOR A WINTER STORM?

A significant winter storm was threatening to bring heavy ice and strong winds into Indiana, threatening electric outages for customers in the Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) service area.  I&M advised customers to be prepared for the possibility of extended power outages, perhaps two or three days, depending on the severity of the storm.
Are You Prepared?
The company has planned for ice-related service interruptions — it put its own crews on standby and will put out a request for additional crews — contract crews as well as crews from neighboring utilities in Indiana and adjoining states. I&M crews will work local outages as they occur, and the extra crews will be dispatched to the areas that are hit the hardest.
“Nothing is more damaging to our electric system than ice, because its weight brings trees down into power lines. The freezing rain slows our ability to clean up the debris before reinstalling poles, transformers and wires,” said Helen J. Murray, president and chief operating officer for Indiana Michigan Power. Murray emphasized that service interruptions during severe winter weather could last for several days.
So what should customers do?
First, let I&M know when outages occur, and where the power lines are downed. Customers can report outages online, or by calling I&M’s Customer Solutions Center toll-free at 1-800-311-4634.  During times of high call volume, callers may hear a recorded message. Even if a customer does not speak with a Customer Solutions Center representative, the customer can leave an electronic or recorded voice message about the outage.  The electronic messaging system records the outage information in the same way as an actual representative.
“The first question the online outage site asks is whether a downed wire or other safety hazard exists,” said Murray. “I&M is concerned that customers take appropriate precautions around electrical equipment at all times, especially during service interruptions.”
The following are tips for safely coping with prolonged power outages:
• Never touch a downed wire. Always treat this situation as dangerous. Report this condition to I&M or 9-1-1 as soon as possible.
• Prepare an emergency kit with flashlight(s), battery-powered lamp and fresh batteries; battery-powered radio or television; water for drinking and cooking; instructions for manually opening power-operated garage doors; manual can opener.
• Do not open freezer door. This will keep foods frozen longer. Minimize opening refrigerator doors as well.
• If the temperatures dip below freezing and the power outage is projected to last overnight or longer, consider moving to a shelter or in with friends or relatives who do have electricity.
• If you leave your house, protect your water pipes from freezing by turaning the water off at the main shutoff valve and opening faucets to drain the water.
• Customers who use an emergency generator must make sure it has a manual or automatic switch that disconnects it from main power lines. This is a legal requirement. A generator that remains connected to main power lines can backfeed power, shocking unsuspecting utility workers. A direct-connected generator also may result in a short circuit that can damage the electrical system or create a fire hazard in the home. The generator itself may be damaged or destroyed. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions carefully, and plug essential appliances directly into the generator.

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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