Be Prepared with Winter Power Outage Tips

Allstar Electrical Services, serving metro Denver for over a decade, reminds consumers that winter power outages often occur and taking precautions will keep people and their homes safe

DENVER, CO – Already this winter there have been power outages reported in many jurisdictions across the country, particularly in New England, and while some of them have been short-lived, a few hours, some areas have experienced no power for several days.

Colorado has been spared a winter power outage as yet this winter, but these occurrences do happen in the state and people should be prepared. Most commonly, power outages in the winter are weather-related, when severe storms bring down power lines or blow out local substations, or they can be isolated to even a single home if the wires come down. They can last for a matter of a few minutes or they can go on for several hours or even days depending on the severity of the outage.

At Allstar Electrical Services of Denver we are experienced with power outages, both localized and widespread, and over the years we have developed a few Winter Power Outage Tips to help our customers and the public in general in case of a problem with the electrical supply.

In the event of a loss of power in your home or in a business location, the first thing to check is if the power outage is just your property or if it is something affecting an entire area. A quick check of the neighborhood will give you a good idea of whether the outage is just your property or a bigger problem. If it’s just your property, then check your circuit breaker to see if you have a blown fuse and/or circuits out, and try to switch them back on or replace fuses (it’s always a good idea to have extra fuses on hand in this event). If it is more widespread, it is recommended to check with the local utility company – call the utility, but don’t call 9-1-1 as that is reserved for emergencies. The local utility should have information on how long it will take to restore power.

Here are our Winter Power Outage Tips:

Before a power outage occurs.

  • Be prepared. You never know when a power outage might occur, so it is a good idea to be prepared in advance. Make sure you have batteries for flashlights and battery-operated portable radios on hand so you’ll have a light source and some communications.
  • Alternative heating sources. A power outage will keep most furnaces out of commission for the duration, so if you have a gas-powered fireplace or wood-burning stove or fireplace, make sure you keep adequate fuel on hand. Do not use a kerosene heater or a barbeque grill for heating as these devices inside a home will spread toxic fumes.
  • Insulation. Make sure your home is well insulated and that doors and windows are caulked. Storm windows or windows prepared with winterization kits are also a good idea. This will help hold in the existing heat for as long as possible. Also, make sure water pipes are adequately insulated.   
  • Water shut-offs. Know where the water shut-off valves are so in the event of an extended power outage you can shut the water off and be prepared to keep the pipes from freezing. (If an outage occurs and is predicted to last an extended period, shut off the water and open the spigots throughout the house to drain pipes.)
  • Check the garage. Know how to manually operate a garage door. Instructions for overriding an automatic garage door opener come with the device. In the event that you have to leave the house you want to get your car out.

During and outage:

  • Stay away from downed power lines. Storms often bring down power lines and you don’t want to touch them or be near them when the power comes back on.
  • Listen to your battery-powered radio or TV, especially for news at the top of each hour, to find out when the power might be restored.
  • Dress warmly. Wear layers, including a sweater, sweatshirt or even a jacket. You lose heat through your hands and the top of your head. Wear gloves and a knit hat, not just a baseball cap.
  • Avoid opening the refrigerator. Food in the refrigerator and freezer will last longer if you keep the doors shut as much as possible.
  • Unplug major appliances. When the power comes back on, all of those appliances can create a drain or power surge, which can harm sensitive equipment. To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, stereos and other unnecessary electronic equipment at the power source. Leave a light on so you’ll know when the power is restored.
  • Generators. If you have a generator, do not connect it to your home’s power system unless it has been properly installed and disconnects you from the main power grid when it is operating. If you do not disconnect from the power grid, you can be sending electricity back down the lines; not just to your home. That could be deadly for power company workers.
  • Check on your neighbors. The elderly or those with medical conditions may need some assistance.  If you have to go out, drive carefully. Remember that traffic signals may be out during a power outage. Consider each intersection to be a four-way stop and drive defensively.
  • Be careful going out. A widespread power outage will most likely impact traffic signals and street lights, so take extra cautions if you must drive around.
  • Check the radio. Keep that portable, battery-powered radio at hand and check news reports (usually at the top of the hour) to keep apprised of the power outage situation and utility company reports.

Most often power outages will only last a short time, from a matter of minutes to a few hours. However, if it is going to be a long time, check with friends to see if they have power and can take you in, or in some cases local emergency shelters are set up to help. Being caught in the cold for an extended period of time can be dangerous, so be prepared to evacuate to safe location if necessary.

For all of your electrical needs, from minor repairs and additions to emergency work, both residential and commercial, call on Allstar Electrical Services, serving the Denver metro are for over a decade. For complete information call 303-399-7420.

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