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Preparing for winter storms

Kentucky weather can be unpredictable, especially during the winter months. That’s why you should prepare for dangerous situations before a storm hits.
 
It is especially important to develop a plan for prolonged power outages during these harsh months. Heavy snows, freezing rain and ice storms can all create electrical hazards.
 
“Being safe around electricity is something you should focus on year-round.  Kentucky winters can bring a whole slew of dangerous hazards, especially where power lines are concerned.
 
Snow and ice often accumulate on power lines. The added weight may cause lines to snap off the poles or cause the poles to break.  That can bring power lines into contact with the ground, trees, homes, vehicles and other objects. If people or pets come in contact with a live power line, they can suffer serious injury or even death.
 
Due to these dangerous conditions, many residents may be confined to their homes for days at a time. That’s why it is important to have a plan in place, especially during these prolonged outages. To better prepare you and your family for a power outage, your electric co-op recommends members keep a storm preparedness kit fully stocked. The basic supplies in this kit should include:
 
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable food
  • Emergency blankets
  • First aid kit/medicine
  • Flashlight
  • Battery operated or hand-crank radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Toiletries
 
Now that your family is prepared for a prolonged outage, what should you do if the lights do go out?
 
We recommend residents stay in their homes and eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car.  Roads may be dangerous and workers will be out trying to repair electrical lines; we want to get the power back on as quickly and safely as possible for our members.
 
While indoors, many will turn their focus to staying warm.
 
If homes are not using a generator, keep warm air in and cool air out by not opening doors to unused rooms. Do not open doors to the outdoors unless necessary.
 
Food safety is also important when there is a prolonged outage. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible, and eat perishable food first. If you know a winter storm is coming, stock up on ice so that you can keep things in coolers to keep them from going bad if an outage lasts longer than a day. Once the refrigerator reaches temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, foods can become unsafe to eat.
 
To protect homes’ electrical equipment during an outage, turn off and unplug all unnecessary electronics or appliances. This will keep equipment from being damaged by surges or spikes when the power returns.
 
Once an outage is over, there are still safety precautions to take. Electrical power lines could still be down. If you see downed power lines, do not touch them. Call Pennyrile Electric or 911.
 
Make sure your homes and families are prepared for winter storms this season, and avoid electrical hazards that may be common this time of year.
 
Sources: Electrical Safety Authority, Popular Mechanics
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