An emergency kit is helpful to have year-round
By Elissa Glassman
The mission of Northern Lights Inc. is to provide members with reliable service—day and night.
Employees constantly work maintaining equipment, removing trees from rights-of-way, and upgrading the cooperative’s power system.
Despite NLI’s best efforts, severe and unusual weather can wreak havoc and cause a power outage that can last for hours or days.
High winds and lightning are a few examples of natural conditions that can seriously damage power equipment in a large area.
Even with crews working around the clock, repairs are time consuming, difficult and often dangerous.
Always be Prepared
Put together an easily accessible emergency kit in case of a lengthy power outage. Supplies should include:
- A flashlight, radio and fresh batteries. Always keep the batteries separate until you are ready to use them.
- Candles and matches. Do not leave burning candles unattended.
- Bottled drinking water. Store at least 1 gallon per person per day. If a storm is forecast, fill the bathtub with water so bathroom facilities can still be used. Pour a bucket of water down the toilet to create a vacuum flush.
- Fireplace or woodstove. Keep kindling and dry firewood on hand.
- Clothing. In cooler weather, wear extra layers and cover your head with a hat. Have sleeping bags and blankets handy too.
- Easy-to-prepare food. Buy items that don’t require much cooking: canned or instant soups, stews or chili, packaged freeze-dried meals, and protein or breakfast bars.
- Gas camp stoves, lanterns or barbecues. Never use a camp stove or barbecue indoors. Use lanterns on a flat, stable and nonflammable surface. Have extra fuel for cooking outdoors.
- Ample supply of essential prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs. During a storm, road travel may not be possible for several days.
- First aid kit. If you have a medical condition, always have a backup plan available at a moment’s notice.
Power Outage Dos and Don’ts
Never go near or touch a downed power line. Call and report it to authorities immediately.
- Never wire a portable generator directly into your electrical panel.
- Check your electrical panel. Look for tripped breakers or blown fuses. Try to reset the breakers by switching them off then on.
- Call NLI toll free at (866) 665-4837 to report the location of your outage. Report any flashes, bangs or trees in lines. Those details can help crews locate damage.
- Turn off major appliances. The water heater and heating system breakers must be turned off to avoid overloading your circuits when the power is restored. Unplug any voltage-sensitive equipment.
- Switch on an outside light. This helps NLI crews determine if your power has been restored at night.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Food in a refrigerator will last 12 to 24 hours if the doors remain closed. A full freezer can last 24 to 48 hours. Drape a sleeping bag over your refrigerator or freezer for added insulation.
Remember these tips during an extended outage. It’s easier on everyone involved.
- Let repair crews do their job. It is tempting to stop crews and ask questions about when the power is going to be restored, but this only delays restoration. While the crews want to be helpful, they also want to restore your power quickly so they, too, can get home to their families.
- Be a good neighbor. Severe storms usually increase the number of accidents and medical problems. These situations increase the response time for service agencies. Organize people in your area to check on each other and lend assistance.
- If not used correctly, portable generators can cause fatal accidents involving workers on the lines. Plug appliances into the generator. Do not connect household breaker circuits to the generator without an UL-approved transfer switch installed by a licensed electrician.
- Have emergency water sources. Runoff from rooftops can be collected and used for washing, but do not drink it. A water heater can supply drinking water. Be sure the breaker is off before you drain it, and be sure to fill it before turning on the breaker.
- Keep the freezer full. Milk jugs filled with water and placed in a half-full freezer can be a supply of both water and ice in an emergency. Also, ice will keep the freezer colder longer if it is full. Check into buying dry ice to help prevent spoilage.