Preparing for a Power Outage
At left: Distribution Engineer Trivikram Singaraju at Lucas Substation in Palmer
Although we try our best, Matanuska Electric Association (MEA) cannot guarantee the delivery of electricity 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – particularly in the winter. Power outages are caused by natural problems such as ice build-up and trees falling onto the line (often from outside our right-of-way), mechanical problems such as equipment failures, and "acts of mankind," such as cars hitting power poles.
While we cannot guarantee you won't experience a power outage, we would like to help you prepare for one. Here is a checklist we suggest you go through now, while your lights are on.
- Prepare a survival pack that includes matches, candles, a hand-operated can-opener, and the items that follow.
- Buy a battery-operated radio and extra batteries. During major power outages, MEA provides frequent news updates to several local AM and FM radio stations, including KMBQ (99.7 FM).
- Make sure you have a flashlight. Test it periodically and keep extra batteries on hand.
- Provide alternative long-term lighting with candles or a kerosene light. Be extra careful with these alternative methods of lighting, heating and cooking. The careless use of candles, propane and kerosene causes many house fires and personal injuries. Please, be careful.
- Keep extra blankets on hand for warmth. (And don't forget to wear sweaters!)
- Install an alternate heating system (wood stove or other) or make plans to stay with relatives or friends who have one. You will also need to plan a safe, alternate cooking method (i.e., wood or propane stove).
- Keep a supply of extra food that does not need cooking (snack bars and canned fruit come to mind) and a supply of water on hand. To store drinkable, germ-free water, boil it first or add water purification tablets, available wherever they sell sporting goods. (You can also buy bottled water, which is a lot less work). Remember that without water, you can only flush the toilet once during a power outage because it needs electricity to refill. If you have extra water, you can pour it in the top tank and flush it again.
- Know how to drain the water supply and water heating systems in your house. (Drain these systems when the temperature inside your residence falls below 40 degrees and the power is still off; drain at a warmer temperature if your house has cold spots.)
If your electricity does go off:
- Keep traffic through your outside doors to an absolute minimum to avoid losing household heat. If possible, gather family members in a central room and close off the rest of the house.
- Do not open your refrigerator or freezer more than necessary. Do not open them to see if your food is thawing, as that will only speed up the process. Undisturbed, food will remain frozen in most freezers for at least 24 hours, and often for two or more days.
- Unplug all appliances and turn your thermostat to its lowest setting until power is restored. Power outages can cause damage to sensitive electronic equipment such as VCRs and computers. To protect your equipment, MEA recommends you install voltage surge protectors and/or an uninterrupted power supply system (UPS). During an extended outage, some people turn off all the breakers in the house except one going to a lamp that is turned on, to let them know when power is restored.