Safety tips for power outages before, during, and after the winter storm

MISHAWAKA, Ind., -- Thousands in New England were left in the dark this weekend as a Nor’easter produced strong winds and dumped heavy snow on the region.

This week – the ABC57 First Warning Neighborhood Weather Team will be tracking the first significant snowfall in Michiana which could leave you without power, too. Strong wind gusts could produce downed power lines which could leave you in the cold.

Schnee Doyle at Indiana Michigan power shares some important safety tips for winter weather before, during, and after the storm.

Before the storm

While I&M – and other power companies – work around the clock to ensure customers don’t lose power, it’s still important to be prepared yourself. Doyle recommends people to have a plan in place.

You should start the plan by packing an emergency kit. The kit should include flashlights with fresh batteries, candles – with a lighter, over-the-counter medicines, water for drinking and cooking, and more. See the complete list here.  

It’s also a good idea to have a portable, rechargeable power bank for your phone, so you can check on others who may need help.

“Check with those folks in your life who are older, have medical conditions, or little children to make sure that they also have a plan in place on what to do if the power goes out,” says Doyle.

“Make sure that your phones laptops and other important electronic devices are charged before the snow starts to fall.”

During

You may want to fire up the generator when you lose power. However, Doyle stresses that it’s incredibly important that you use them safely. Doyle recommends that you should refuel heaters, lamps and generators outside and to clean up spills immediately. She also says that you should never operate fuel-powered sources without proper ventilation.

For those using a portable or RV generator, Doyle has some recommendations:

"Do not plug that generator into your circuit box. Portable generators backfeed electricity of the line and that can risk the lives of repair workers and the public. If you need to use a portable or RV generator, follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully and make sure that you are operating those outside and away from any flames or sparks."

After

In addition to power outages, Doyle warns of another danger: Debris! Gusty winds can not only knock over power lines but can also break tree branches and limbs that may fall onto sidewalks, streets, or yards.

While it is tempting to clean up a fallen tree in your yard, Doyle urges residents to leave debris and call emergency services and I&M Power – even if it doesn’t make direct contact with a power line.

“Never remove debris that’s within 10 feet of a powerline,” says Doyle.

“You never know how far that electricity is going to travel, so we encourage folks to stay as far away as you can and not to remove any debris. we are in the midst of winter storm season that brings extra hazards out, so we just encourage everyone to be as safe as possible.”

You can find a detailed list of what to do before, during, and after the storm here.


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