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Power outage preparation

            Few people realize how essential electricity is until they experience a power outage.

            Although many power outages may only last a few hours, individuals and organizations should be prepared to be without essential services — including electricity — for 72 hours or longer.

            If your power goes out, check your home's circuit breakers or fuses first. Your electricity could be out because a circuit has tripped or a fuse has blown.

Be prepared

            Keep emergency supplies on hand, including:

                Flashlight with fresh batteries 
                A portable, battery-operated radio or TV 
                A NOAA weather radio for warnings 
                A wind-up or battery-powered alarm clock 
                Water and nonperishable food — canned fruit, powdered milk, peanut butter and crackers 
                Extra diapers and other infant care items 
                First aid kit 
                Essential medicines and prescription information 
                Extra pair of eye glasses, hearing aid and wheelchair batteries, oxygen, medication, catheters, etc.

            Have either a cell phone or hardwired single-line telephone. Cordless phones will not work without electricity.

            If you have an electric garage door opener, find the manual release lever and learn how to operate the door. Garage doors can be heavy, so get help to lift it. If you regularly use the garage as the primary means of entering your home, be sure to keep a key to your house with you in case the garage door will not open.

            Protect sensitive electric equipment, such as computers, VCRs and TVs, by installing surge suppresser or other power protection devices.

            Make sure your smoke alarms have fresh batteries. Even those alarms that are wired to your home's electrical system should have a fresh back-up battery.

            Have an emergency plan in place, including back-up power supply, if a member of your home depends on life support or needs other medical equipment that runs off electricity.

During an outage

            Turn off electrical items — Protect appliances from possible power surges when electricity is restored. Unplug appliances and computers, if possible, and turn off nonessential lights. Turn off any heat-producing electric equipment such as toaster ovens, electric stove tops, or hair curlers. Leave one light fixture on so you know when power is restored.

            Keep food cold — Perishable foods should not be stored above 40 degrees for more than two hours. If a power outage lasts two hours or less, you need not be concerned. Do not open the refrigerator or freezer. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold enough for a few hours.

            A freezer that is half full will hold its temperature for up to 24 hours and a full freezer for 48 hours.  If it looks like the power outage will be more than two to four hours, pack refrigerated milk, dairy products, meats, fish, poultry, eggs and other perishable foods in a cooler surrounded by ice. 

            If it looks like the power outage will be prolonged, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Use dry or block ice to keep food frozen.  Never handle dry ice with your bare hands or place it directly on food. The extreme cold will cause burns.

            Water — Discontinue nonessential water usage. Do not drink cloudy or dirty water. Don't be alarmed if the chlorine level is higher than normal. Notify water officials of low or no water pressure.

            Cooking — Never cook with charcoal indoors.

            Stay comfortable — During hot days, stay cool indoors and drink plenty of fluids. In colder weather, don't open outside doors unless you have to. Use blankets, sleeping bags and extra clothes to help stay warm.

          Dress in layers and wear a hat. Cover drafty windows and doors with blankets. Close off doors and stay in one room with a heat source.

           If the room has openings without doors, use blankets to cover them. Be extremely careful when using alternate heating sources. Some are not approved for indoor use and could be a fire or carbon monoxide hazard.

            Make sure your fire extinguisher is charged and working.

            Power lines — If you see power lines on the ground, stay at least 10 feet away because electricity might still be flowing through the lines.

            Use flashlights — Candles are fire hazards.

            Monitor radio — Do not call 911 to ask about power outages. Listen to 92.5 FM WBKR for updates.

            Social media — Facebook and Twitter are great ways to get updates during a prolonged outage. Members can use their cell phones to access information online when power is out. 

            Outage map — Kenergy's Web site features an online outage map that provides details about outages. Go to kenergycorp.com > Outage Central > Outage Map.  The map allows members to zoom in and see road names in the outage area.

            Anticipate traffic delays — Use extreme caution when driving. Intersections should be treated as four-way stops when traffic lights are out. Anticipate traffic delays in areas without electricity.

            Check on neighbors — Check on elderly or medically dependent neighbors.

            Life support equipment — If you or someone in your household uses life support equipment, make arrangements for a back-up power supply or arrange in advance for an alternate place to stay.  Be sure your alternate place is not on Kenergy's system or is a designated shelter.  

            Know how to start or connect a back-up power supply for essential medical equipment or move your loved one to a location where power is available.

            Ahead of time, create a network of relatives, friends or coworkers. Discuss your disability and ask for their assistance in an emergency. Arrange for someone to check on you in an emergency.

            Generators — A portable generator can be a valuable tool during power outages, but it can also be extremely dangerous if not installed and used correctly. If you own a generator, never plug into any electrical outlet in your home.

            Generators that are not isolated can feed back into our electrical system and possibly electrocute anyone coming in contact with those wires.

            If you don't have a double throw transfer switch installed, plug appliances directly into the generator using a properly sized extension cord. For more information about generators please read our FACTS ABOUT PORTABLE GENERATORS.

After an outage

            If a storm has damaged trees on your property and you clear downed limbs or trees, don't try to remove anything tangled in power lines. Stay away from downed lines (no matter what type) and notify Kenergy immediately.

            If you think electric power has been restored to your area but your home is still without power, please call our 24-hour dispatch center at:

(800) 844-4832 ANY OFFICE, ANY TIME