High winds, heavy snow: Be prepared for winter storms

WECCoop News

“We live in a territory that has a lot of severe winter storms, and we have a lot of trees. Some of those trees come down on power lines,” said General Manager Louis Porter. Already, high winds have caused outages. Because of the rural, heavily forested nature of WEC’s territory – and all those north-south mountain ranges that create natural wind tunnels – the Co-op asks all members to please be prepared for the possibility of outages.

“We’re investing in making our grid more resilient. Our line crews are amazing, but they have 1,300 rural miles of line to cover to reach everyone. We need members to have what they need to get through an outage, especially when we get a big storm,” said Porter.

Preparedness is taking responsibility for the safety and comfort of yourself and those around you. That means staying informed, having the supplies you need, and making wise choices.

Be aware:

  • Pay attention to local weather reports
  • Sign up for school closings, road alerts, and weather alerts on electronic devices
  • Follow travel precautions
  • Charge phones, tablets, computers, and other devices
  • Address potential storm hazards on your property, like a chimney that needs cleaning or a dead tree limb hanging over the driveway

Check your supplies:

  • 3-5 days of nonperishable food for each family member, including pets
  • Extra medication, oxygen, or other health essentials
  • Buckets or containers of water for drinking and household use
  • Portable radio
  • Flashlights
  • Spare batteries
  • Candles
  • Matches or lighter
  • Wind up or battery alarm clock
  • Safety pins
  • Zip-top plastic bags
  • Moist towelettes or baby wipes
  • Frozen ice packs
  • Large cooler or ice chest
  • Sleeping bags or blankets
  • Warm, dry clothing
  • Duct tape
  • First Aid kit
  • Personal hygiene supplies
  • Diapers and other baby supplies
  • Hand-crank can opener
  • Disposable plates, cups, and eating utensils
  • A fire extinguisher
  • Charged phone and car charger
  • Charged EV or full tank in gas car
  • Shovels and/or tuned up snowblower
  • Masks or face coverings and hand sanitizer
  • Whatever else you may need! Wood supply, camp stove, etc.


If you know a storm with the potential to cause outages is coming, fill containers with water, including bathtubs. 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.

Have a plan

  • Do you have backup heat that does not rely on electricity?
  • If you have special health needs, do you have ice packs to keep medication cold, backup oxygen, or a generator?
  • Do you have someone you can call if you need assistance?
  • Do you have neighbors who may need special assistance? If you can assume responsibility to check on them, do their family members have your contact info?
  • Does your town have an emergency action plan?
  • Do you have a place you can go if you need to leave town for a few days?

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 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.