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Power Outage Tips
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By Battalion Chief Keith Grierson
March 2, 2018

The following tips are from the Montgomery County Department of Public Safety:

With today’s potent winds knocking out power to millions along the East Coast, chances are you might be one of the thousands of Montgomery County residents who are reading this in the dark.

While utility crews are working to restore service as quickly and as safely as they possibly can, we wanted to provide some tips and safety reminders in case you and your family are faced with a delayed restoration of your electricity.

#1) Find Warm Clothing – The largest amount of heat loss comes from the head, so find a hat or knit cap for everyone to wear. Scarves are great at keeping the neck and upper chest warm. Then begin the process of layering yourself up with as many items as you comfortably can. Don’t forget the socks and gloves!

#2) Grab All the Blankets – They’re obviously good at keeping you warm, but so are sleeping bags and bathrobes in a pinch.

#3) Go Unplug Any Unused Appliances – While rare, it’s possible that a power surge may occur when your service is restored. It could damage your appliance or devices, and may even result in a fire.

#4) Seal Doors and Windows – If you’re not using the blankets or sleeping bags on yourself, consider hanging them from the door jam or stuffing them along the bottom to keep the cold air outside.

#5) Stay Out of the Fridge! – Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door’s been kept shut, and a full freezer will hold its temperatures for about 48 hours. When the power comes back on, immediately check the temperature inside the refrigerator. If it’s been above 40 degrees for more than 2 hours, throw away any perishable items as well as anything that has an unusual odor, color, texture, or that feels warm to the touch. Bottom line: When in doubt, throw it out.

#6) Find a Friend with a Generator – If you’ve got a friend or neighbor with a generator, hopefully you’ve got them in your speed dial list. Even if you’re lucky enough to own one, it’s important for everyone to know how to operate them safely. Always use generators outdoors to avoid a buildup of carbon monoxide. Plug appliances directly into the generator or use a heavy-duty outdoor-rated extension cord. NEVER plug the generator into a wall outlet. This practice, known as back feeding, can cause an electrocution risk to utility workers and others served by the same utility transformer.

#7) Old Fashioned Fire Power – There are few sights and sounds as relaxing as a crackling fireplace. Make it a safer experience by using glass or metal screens to keep embers or sparks from accidentally igniting items that are flammable – and keep those items far away from the fireplace.

#8) Candle in the Wind – More than half of home fires occur when a candle flame gets too close to something that can catch on fire, like curtains or other knick-knacks. Keep them at least 12 inches from anything that burns, and never leave a burning candle unattended.

#9) What about Gas? – Kerosene and propane heaters are good options, but they also require adequate ventilation. If you have a gas stove, especially an older one, you’ll probably notice that you can still ignite the burners. Some people even use their ovens to heat their homes. However, prolonged use of an open oven inside a closed home can cause a buildup of carbon monoxide. We don’t recommend using your gas stove while the power is out.

#10) Get a Little Closer – When trying to stay warm, it’s a good idea to consolidate your family members into one room. The heat from your bodies alone should raise the temperature in the room a degree or two. If you’ve got any unused rooms, think about closing off or sealing them up to keep the heat closer to you.

#11) Don’t Forget Fido – If you’re cold, your pet is probably cold too. Limit their outdoor activity to only when “nature calls” – and that’ll limit the cold air from creeping in while you let them out. They may also appreciate an extra blanket to curl up with... or your lap.

#12) Look Out for Your Neighbors – This is perhaps the most important thing. If you know someone in your community who might be alone, or who’s struggling to keep warm, please consider reaching out to them and asking if they’ll be alright. If you see someone on the street who is dealing with homelessness, there are resources in Montgomery County available to help them find a safe place to escape the cold. Connect them with Your Way Home by dialing 2-1-1 or 1-866-964-7925. If it’s a life or death situation, call 9-1-1.

Thank you for taking the time to read through these cold weather power outage survival tips. Hopefully service will be restored soon.

Montgomery County Department of Public Safety and Skippack Fire Company

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Skippack Fire Company
1230 Bridge Road
PO Box 1
Skippack, PA 19474
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