Power Outage Safety Emphasized During National Preparedness Month

Fulton – September is National Preparedness Month, and the Oswego County Emergency Management Office is encouraging people to include planning for power outages in their Family Disaster Plans.

“Sudden power outages can come during a severe thunderstorm or windstorm, ice storm, or equipment failure on the power grid,” said Emergency Management Office Director Dale A. Currier, CEM. “People should be prepared for emergencies that could last 7 to 10 days.”

Disaster preparedness experts have developed a list of important things people can do to ensure the safety and security of their families and homes during the next power outage.

• Put together a Family Disaster Supplies kit for your home that can be taken with you if you must evacuate. Use a backpack or large plastic bucket with a lid from a hardware store or home center. Stuff it with a minimum of three days’ worth of food and water, for you and your pets. Also include a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, battery-powered clock, extra batteries, first aid kit, money, medications and a CD or USB drive containing important documents. Store the kit in a place that is easily accessible in an emergency situation.

• If you have a portable telephone that requires electricity to work, have a standard telephone on hand. Make sure your mobile phones are fully charged.

• Turn off major appliances such as water heaters, stoves and air conditioning units. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads to the system when power is restored.

• Leave one light on so you will be able to see when power is restored to your home.

• Familiarize yourself with your main electrical panel. You may have to turn off the main breaker or have to reset circuit breakers after an outage.

• Inspect the area around your electricity meter. If you detect or suspect any damage, call your local utility provider.

• Plan to have an alternative cooking source, such as a camp stove or an outdoor grill – but be sure to use them safely! Never use them inside your home.

• If you use alternate sources of heat such as a wood stove or a kerosene heater, make sure to operate them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Never leave them unattended. Make sure battery-operated smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

Use generators safely

• Do not connect portable generators directly to the electrical system of your home. Electricity could flow backward into the power lines and endanger lives. Either have a qualified electrician perform the work or plug appliances directly into the portable generator.

• If you’re running a portable generator, be sure to use properly rated extension cords (electrical load and length). Also, make sure the portable generator is properly vented to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not place a portable generator in your home or an enclosed space with limited ventilation like a garage or a screened porch.

• Consider installing a commercial-grade, standby generator for your home. A standby generator is permanently installed outside the home similar to a central air conditioning unit. It runs on natural gas or propane and hooks up to existing gas lines. Standby generators turn on automatically when the power shuts off. A transfer switch constantly monitors utility power and transfers the electrical load to the generator if power is lost, protecting the home even if the home owner is away. A standby generator can power critical and sophisticated appliances and systems in your home, including lights, heating/cooling systems, refrigerators, sump pumps, home security systems and more.

To determine if a standby generator is right for you, be sure to do your homework and look for a unit that offers some of the following:

• A commercial-grade engine that provides clean, consistent power, handles heavy loads and powers up quickly.

• Make sure to purchase a standby generator with a minimum five-year warranty.

• Some units have remote monitoring/operating capabilities. This is important for those who spend time away from home.

More information on planning for power outages is available on the Oswego County web page, www.oswegocounty.com/emo, on the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services website, http://www.dhses.ny.gov/aware-prepare/, and on the American Red Cross website, http://www.redcross.org/ny/syracuse.

People may also call the Oswego County Emergency Management Office at 315/591-9150 for more information.