New England is known for spectacular scenery, friendly people and changeable weather. No matter the season, violent storms are always a possibility — which means power outages can strike in the middle of a July thunderstorm or during a January blizzard – and can be just as dangerous.
With winter storm Regis currently passing through New England, here are some steps you can take to ensure you and your loved ones stay safe during a power outage.
1. Be prepared – Put together an emergency kit that includes a flashlight and a battery-operated radio so you can listen for important storm updates and information — and don’t forget extra batteries. It’s also a good idea to have a battery back-up for you mobile phone so you can stay connected. Make sure you have at least one gallon of water per person per day (enough for a couple weeks) on hand as well as non-perishable foods such as granola bars and canned goods and a can opener. Always keep a two-week supply of prescription medications and other necessary medical items, including bandages and non-prescription medications.
2. Have a back-up plan for people on life-support equipment – Plan to move a person who depends on life-sustaining medical equipment to a facility, like a local shelter, with back-up power. If a family member relies on oxygen you should have a portable oxygen supply on hand.
3. Turn off all appliances – As soon as you know a storm is coming, turn off or unplug your appliances and electronics including TVs, VCRs, microwave ovens, computers and stereos and disconnect cables to your TV antenna, satellite dish or cable service. This reduces the potential for damage or fire from a power surge when the power comes back on, and it’s a good idea to wait 5-10 minutes before you turn anything back on after power is restored. It’s also a good idea to plug computers and other electronic equipment into surge protectors which will safeguard critical circuits in the event of a power surge.
4. Turn off the electricity at the fuse box if you have to leave – If you’re in a flood-prone area and you have to evacuate, this will prevent the electricity from surging through your home once power is restored. If there’s damage to your home or if power lines are down and touching trees near your house, a powered-down fuse box lets you rest easy — turn it on again when the home and surrounding area are safe.
5. Stay away from downed/sagging power lines – It’s critical to recognize that all lines — as well as tree limbs that come in contact with those lines — are energized. Touching one could result in a severe shock or even death. Keep your children and pets away from these lines and branches.
6. Never attempt to remove downed trees or limbs alone – While it’s tempting to move trees or limbs and help restore power to your home, there’s no way to be certain they’re safe to touch. Instead, report the problem to your local energy company or emergency services department, which will come out and safely remove them.
7. Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning – When the power goes out, it’s tempting to use outdoor-only tools inside as a way to stay warm and comfortable. Don’t do it — generators, pressure washers, grills and similar items can all release deadly CO and when used indoors there’s nowhere for this gas to go. In addition, make sure you regularly replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector.
New England weather doesn’t always cooperate, and unplanned power outages can put your family in danger. Follow these tips to lower your risk and increase safety during a storm.
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