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Storm Preparation: Some Hints for Planning Ahead

By John Varney, VEC Safety and Security Manager

November 18, 2019

Johnson, Vt - Despite VEC’s ongoing efforts to minimize power outages, storms that knock out the electricity are, unfortunately, a fact of life. Below are a few steps you can take ahead of time to increase the chances you and your family can weather power outages more comfortably:

  • Build/restock an emergency kit. A good emergency kit with some key items is important to have on hand in an easily-accessible location. Be sure to periodically check to see it’s well-supplied.
  • Plan for medical needs/devices. If someone in your home is dependent on electric-powered medical equipment, make sure you have a battery backup or make alternative arrangements to ensure their needs are met.
  • Stock water. Before a storm arrives, fill a bathtub if you have one, so you have water to flush the toilet. (Avoid unsupervised bathroom access to children). Fill large containers for drinking water or buy bottled water.
  • Charge devices, and fuel vehicles. Be sure cell phones, computers and tablets are charged and vehicles are full of fuel.
  • Watch the forecast. Keep updated with storm alerts and news from the National Weather Service.
  • If there are outages, safety is the first priority. Here are some guidelines:
  • Stay informed. You can get updates on outages and estimated times of restoration on VEC’s Outage Center as well as on VEC’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. Radio and television stations may offer general outage information as well.
  • Keep your distance from downed power lines outside. Always assume every line is energized and dangerous. If you’re in a vehicle and downed wires are on the car or across the road, stay in your car until emergency crews arrive. Don’t touch anything that might be in contact with a downed line, like a tree limb.
  • Locate a shelter in case you or other people you know need it. If your home becomes unsafe or you need resources during a major storm or during longer term outages, you can dial 2-1-1 to find the closest shelter in your area.
  • Check on neighbors and relatives, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable.
  • Stay off roads. Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out, and roads may be congested. There is also the possibility of downed lines and trees, depending on the severity of the storm.
  • Use generators and stoves safely. Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area.
  • Prepare for the surge when the power comes back on. Turn off or disconnect any appliances, equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment or even cause fires or other hazards. Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on.
  • When the power comes back on, it doesn’t necessarily mean all repairs in your area have been made. Remain vigilant for and stay away from any downed lines or trees in your area.
  • Take care of your food. For detailed instructions on keeping food safe during outages, visit https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep-food-safe/food-safety-in-disaster-or-emergency.

 

What Should You put in Your Emergency Kit?

A well-supplied home emergency kit, kept in an easily-accessible location, should include the following items:

  • Battery powered flashlight(s) or headlamp(s)
  • Battery powered portable radio
  • Battery powered clock
  • Cell phone charger (hand crank)
  • Extra batteries
  • Dry and warm clothing
  • Sleeping bags and/or blankets
  • Bottled water
  • A three day supply of foods which can be consumed with little to no preparation. Items could include energy bars, peanut butter, dried fruits, nuts/trail mix, and canned goods. Include important toiletries including towelettes/wipes, diapers and prescription medications.
  • Manual can opener
  • First Aid Kit

Taking some time to get prepared for storms ahead of time can make the difference between a very unpleasant experience without electricity and one that, at the very least, is tolerable.