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Be Safe During Winter Storm Recovery Efforts

May 18, 2007

  • Stay away from downed power lines and be alert to the possibility that tree limbs or debris may hide an electrical hazard.
  • Treat all downed or hanging power lines as if they are energized. Warn others to stay away and contact the electric utility.
  • A power line does not need to be sparking or arcing to be energized, even if it's sagging close to or on the ground.
  • Other utility lines can also become energized by being in contact with an electrical line.
  • Lines that appear to be "dead" can become energized as crews work to restore power, or sometimes from improper use of emergency generators.

Maintaining warmth is a priority during a winter emergency. Loss of body heat or hypothermia can be life threatening.

  • Stay inside and dress in warm, layered clothing
  • Close off unneeded rooms
  • When using an alternative heat source, follow operating instructions, use fire safeguards and be sure to properly ventilate
  • Stuff towels and rags underneath doors to keep the heat in
  • Cover windows at night
  • Eat. Food provides the body with energy to for creating its own heat.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
  • Move around to keep warm, but not enough to perspire.
  • "Never use a charcoal grill to cook or heat with inside the home," Hall emphasizes. "Charcoal grills give off deadly carbon monoxide gas. Grills should be used only outdoors."

If you use a standby generator, make sure it has a transfer safety switch or that the power is cut off at the breaker box before you operate it. This prevents electricity from traveling back through the power lines or what's known as "back feed." Back feed creates danger for anyone near lines, particularly crews working to restore power.

Remember, always keep the generator outside in a dry, protected area, away from windows or air intakes where deadly exhaust fumes can enter living spaces.

During an outage, Safe Electricity also recommends turning off electrical appliances and unplugging major equipment, including computers and televisions. This will help protect equipment that could be damaged by electrical surges, and prevent circuit overloads when power is restored. Leave one light on to indicate that power has been restored then turn on other appliances and equipment one at a time.

For more information and electrical safety tips, visit www.SafeElectricity.org. Safe Electricity is a non-profit safety public awareness program sponsored by a coalition of electric utilities, the University of Illinois and other organizations dedicated to promoting electrical safety.

- Safe Electricity, All Rights Reserved

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