Whether you like to stay inside and watch the snow or “borrow” the neighborhood kids’ sleds and race them to the bottom of the hill, it is that time of year when accumulations of ice and snow with fluctuating winter temperatures can bring down utility poles, trees and limbs with the ability to disrupt power for days on end. Because Elmhurst is part of a system that transmits power over many miles and the lines of multiple power companies, the disruption to our service may be beyond our boundaries and the solution beyond our immediate control.
We, along with Safe Electricity, encourage everyone to have an emergency plan that includes proper home insulation with caulking and weather-stripping around doors, windows, and other cracks. If you have trees with limbs that could fall on power lines, the limbs should be trimmed by a professional.
Whenever possible avoid going outside during a winter power outage. Power lines and other energize equipment could be hidden by snow, ice and debris. Treat all downed lines as energized and dangerous.
Downed power lines do not have to be sparking, arcing or moving to be dangerous.
Here are other tips to consider:
- Switch off lights and appliances to prevent damaging appliances and overloading circuits when power is restored. Leave one lamp or light switch on as a signal for when your power returns.
- To prevent water pipes from freezing, keep faucets turned on slightly so that water drips from the tap. Know how to shut off water valves just in case a pipe bursts.
- Check on elderly or disabled friends and neighbors.
- 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. Always keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby and know how to use it.
- Stuff towels and rags underneath doors to keep the heat in.
- Cover windows at night.
- Keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants or persons over age 65 are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends, relatives or in a shelter if you can’t keep your home warm.
- Consider installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) for electrical outlets in areas that might be affected by melting snow or ice. This will help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries. Portable GFCIs that do not require tools for installation can also be purchased for winter emergency supply kits.
As always, we encourage anyone with a medical device powered by electricity to consult with your provider and have backup power available. For more electricity safety tips, please visit the Safe Electricity website.