What to do if the Power Goes Out
Power Outage Check List
The first step to take when the power goes out is to check your service panel or fuse box. If you have a service panel with circuit breakers, check each breaker to see if it has tripped. If all the breakers are in the “on” position (as opposed to “off” or “tripped”), turn off the main breaker, then switch it back “on”.
If you have a fuse box, make sure the fuses are all intact. Turn off the main power switch, then turn it on again.
If the power is still off, check the outside disconnect located beneath the electric meter. Not all meters have a breaker switch installed; if you do, flip it to “off,” then back to “on. ”
If your electricity is still off, check with neighbors to see if they are also without power. If they have power, there may be a downed line nearby. Do not try and locate the break yourself, but if you see a downed line, assume it is live and move away. Call the Co-op immediately at 1-800-932-5245 and let us know the location of the downed line.
If the downed line is in contact with a fence or rail, keep away. The power line could energize the fence for several thousand yards, creating a hazard along the entire fence line.
To report a power outage, call us: (802) 223-5245 or toll free 1-800-932-5245.
When you call, please be prepared to give your Map Location Number as it appears on your bill. This number helps to quickly identify the location of your individual electric service line.
A home emergency kit can be invaluable in an outage, especially if power is likely to be out for some time. We all hope that any outage is short lived, but preparing for longer interruptions is time well spent. Here are some ideas for your Kit:
- Portable radio
- Spare batteries
- Matches or a lighter
- Wind up or battery alarm clock
- Safety Pins
- Ziploc type plastic bags
- Moist towelettes (baby wipes)
- Freezer ice packs – keep them in the freezer all the time so they’re ready to use
- Large cooler or ice chest
- Sleeping bags or blankets
- Warm, dry clothing
- Duct tape – the all purpose tape!
- First Aid Kit (see sidebar, right)
- Personal hygiene supplies
- Baby supplies, including diapers
If you know a storm with the potential to cause outages is coming, fill containers with water, including your bathtub(s). Separate water for drinking from that for other uses. Flush toilets sparingly with a bucket of water. Have the means to purify water without electricity.
Meals will be a challenge, so plan on a 3 to 5 day supply for each member of the family, including family pets. These can include:
- Canned meats, vegetables and fruits
- Freeze dried meats, vegetables, fruits, and prepared meals
- Instant foods
- Foil pouch products
- Infant foods and needs
- Pet foods
In addition, the following will make life without power easier:
- Manual can opener
- Disposable plates, cups, and eating utensils
- Camp stove and fuel
Your Co-op also recommends:
- A fire extinguisher, especially if you are relying on a wood stove or fireplace for warmth.
- Keep your car’s tank full of gasoline whenever possible.
In Case of Longer Outages…
If your power is going to be off for hours or even days, here are some additional precautions you and your family can take:
- Turn off and unplug electrical equipment. Leave one light on inside so you can tell when power is turned back on.
- Turn on an outside light that is visible from the road so that Co-op crews can see that your power has been restored.
- Close all doors, windows, and curtains, even doors between rooms. This will help your home retain heat in cold weather.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed tightly. If you’re not sure food is safe to eat, use the old rule of thumb: ‘When in doubt, throw it out.’
- Know how to manually override your electric garage door opener.
- Conserve water. Water will keep hot in your water heater’s tank for up to 3 days.
- Keep warm in layers of clothing and blankets. Wool is especially warm.
- Keep active.
- Use the fireplace wisely and safely. Do not leave the damper open when not in use.
- Pets like tropical fish and birds are very sensitive to temperature changes. They will require special care.
- Your phone will probably work – the telephone company uses a separate, low voltage power supply. Use it to keep in touch and stay informed.
ALSO WORTH CONSIDERING:
The Co-op is available to consult with you free! Ask us about:
Back Up Power
A back up generator could keep your heat and water running; many even have 240 volt output. Remember to have a licensed electrician wire it in to your panel with a double throw switch!
Surge Protection (PDF)
It’s a good idea to keep your sensitive electronic equipment protected at all times. Get one for your computer, microwave, stereo, TV, VCR, and anything else that could get damaged by current fluctuations.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
For members with computers, a UPS can save the data, giving you enough time to shut down in a power outage. Don’t even think of running your computer off a generator without one!
RESTORING POWER: WHO’S ON FIRST
Your Co-op has a list of priorities that we use to determine the best way to restore power after an outage. If it’s a localized interruption, like a downed line or pole, the priority is easy: send out a crew and fix it. But if we get widespread damage from a storm or other cause, we have to take it step by step. For example, if we restore the lines going to your home before we repair substations and main lines, you still won’t have power, and we’ll have to come back to test the lines before actually hooking you up. By restoring power from the distribution points down, we can actually restore your power faster.
In a major emergency, our first priority is to repair the substations that feed power to all our members, if that is where the problem exists.
If the interruption is on a main line carrying electricity from the substations to each community we serve, many members are affected. They are our next priority. Once power has begun to flow through these lines again, we can focus our attentions on the needs of our individual members.
These are the lines that bring power to smaller groups of members who live on the same road or share the same hillside. Your Co-op will restore spurs that serve the most members first, connecting the individual service lines that link spurs with individual homes and businesses.
Small Spurs and Individual Service Lines
Those lines that serve just one or two members will be restored next. Often, power is restored to these members as the main lines are re-energized. If there is still a problem on a spur or service line, some members may see their neighbor’s lights go on, while their power is still out.
The Co-op maintains a database of people with special power needs like life support equipment or emergency services, like police, rescue, ambulance, and fire stations. The Co-op will make every effort to prioritize your needs. Members with these special requirements are encouraged to install backup power sources.