We want to remind everyone to
Be Ready....Be Informed....and Be Prepared
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.
- Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. First use perishable food from the refrigerator. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about four hours.
- Then use food from the freezer. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
- Use your non-perishable foods and staples after using food from the refrigerator and freezer. If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
- Keep food in a dry, cool spot and keep it covered at all times.
- Electrical equipment:
- Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics. Turn off or disconnect any appliances (like stoves), equipment or electronics you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment. Leave one light turned on so you’ll know when the power comes back on. Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out and roads will be congested.
Using generators safely:
- When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.
- If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.
Heating Safety :
Heating the home is one of the leading causes of home fires. Take these precautions to cut your risk of starting a fire in the home.
Use alternative heaters safely:
- First, never use your stove or oven to heat your home.
- Never leave alternative heaters unattended—turn off space heaters or extinguish the fireplace before going to bed or leaving home.
- Keep all flammable materials and potential fuel sources—including but not limited to newspapers, matches, bedding, clothing, carpets and rugs—at least three feet away from heat sources such as space heaters, fireplaces and stoves.
Place your space heater on a hard, level, nonflammable surface. Do not put space heaters on rugs or carpets, near bedding or drapes, and keep children and pets away. Look for a space heater model that shuts off automatically if the heater falls over.
Keep the fire in your fireplace by using a glass or metal screen large enough to catch sparks and rolling logs. Never leave fireplaces unattended. Be sure to have wood and coal stoves, fireplaces, chimneys and furnaces professionally inspected once a year.
Install smoke alarms on every floor of your home. Check them once a month by pressing the test button, and replace batteries as necessary.
Make sure both your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working properly, and practice your home fire escape plan so every member of your family, including young children and elderly, can get out quickly and safely. Your escape plan should include at least two routes out for every room in the home, and a meeting place outside your home.
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