How to prepare for spring storm power outages

rain storm
Photo credit Ellica_S/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Springtime brings warm weather, rain showers, and potentially, power outages.

Before you get stuck in the dark, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is reminding people how to prepare for and recover safely from storm-related outages.

“We want to have people thinking about safety tips,” said PUC spokesperson Nils Hagen-Frederiksen. “And a big part of utility safety when you are dealing with either warm-weather storms or cold-weather storms is what you do ahead of time.”

Hagen-Frederiksen said if you know severe weather is approaching, make sure prescription medications are filled in advance, and keep the outage hotlines for your gas and electricity providers handy.

“That’s going to be the hotline posted on your bills,” he noted, adding you should not call 911 for power outages.

Make sure your cellphone is fully charged. If the lights go out, use battery-operated lanterns or flashlights rather than candles, which are a potential fire hazard.

Turn off items like appliances and lights that were on before an outage to prevent a possible surge. However, leave just one light on, Hagen-Frederiksen advised, to alert you that power has been restored. Then, wait at least 15 minutes to turn everything else back on.

“Someplace that you can see it,” he explained, “that way you know when the power comes back on again, but you don’t necessarily have a big surge and have all of your appliances try to draw power at once, which can trip circuit breakers and maybe cause the power to go back out again.”

Outdoors, stay away from all downed power lines and treat them as if they were electrified. If you smell gas in your house, evacuate, and do not use phones or turn on lights.

It’s also a good idea to check on neighbors.

For more safety and preparedness tips, visit puc.pa.gov.