PUC Offers Storm Tips as Hurricane Irma Approaches; Reminds Residents to Prepare, Report Outages and Always Consider Safety
Authored By: Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) reminded residents across the state that preparation and awareness are essential parts of storm safety, as Hurricane Irma approaches the east coast.
“Time spent on planning and preparation before any storm can go a long way toward keeping yourself and your family safe when severe weather hits,” said Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “Additionally, there are many things that consumers can and should do to protect themselves and to help ensure that storm-related problems are addressed as quickly as possible.”
- Write down, print or save toll-free outage hotlines for your electric utility and/or your natural gas utility, which are listed on the PUC website.
- Save the Internet address for your utility’s outage reporting system, which can provide updates on repair and restoration efforts. Those electric utility outage sites and natural gas company websites are available on the PUC website.
- Keep your cell phone charged, so you can contact your utility, other emergency services and family members during any power outage.
- Secure necessary food, medicine and other supplies, including batteries for flashlights.
Should you lose power during a storm, the PUC offers the following tips:
- Call your utility hotlines. Do not assume that the utility already knows about your outage or that neighbors have already called.
- Use a phone that does not require electricity, such as a cellular phone or corded phone. Cordless phones will not work without electricity.
- Do NOT call 9-1-1 to report power outages. Those calls take dispatchers away from other emergencies and can also slow a storm response because you're not talking directly to the utility.
- SPECIAL NOTE: If you have a downed power line or another hazardous situation, call 9-1-1 and then contact your utility.
- Do NOT touch or approach any fallen lines, and stay away from objects or puddles in contact with downed power lines.
- Do NOT try to remove trees or limbs from power lines.
- Turn off lights and electrical appliances (except for the refrigerator and freezer). When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment.
- After you turn the lights off, turn one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
- Use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns for emergency lighting. Do not use candles or other potential fire hazards.
- If you use a generator, do NOT run it inside a home or garage. Also, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator, not your home's electrical system, which could shock or injure utility crews working on nearby power lines. Additional generator tips are available here.
- Electric power outages can affect gas furnaces and other appliances. If they do not function properly when power is restored, call a professional for service.
- If you smell natural gas, get everyone out of the building immediately. Leave the door open and do NOT use phones, switch lights or turn appliances on or off, or take any other action while inside the building. After you are safely outside, call 9-1-1 from your cell phone or neighbor’s home.
- Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs who might need additional assistance.
Chairman Brown noted that there is extensive behind-the-scenes work when storms approach Pennsylvania, to quickly address problems and restore service as rapidly as possible.
“Utilities put their storm plans into motion; crews and equipment are positioned for quick response to outages; and communication with emergency management coordinators is enhanced. During storm emergencies, the PUC continuously monitors utility issues and works closely with the Governor’s Office and the other state agencies involved in Pennsylvania’s coordinated storm response.”
The Commission encourages residents to monitor storm forecasts and official information as this storm approaches, and to take steps to safeguard themselves and their families before, during and after any severe weather.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.