At Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, we are committed to working safely and effectively to protect members and employees.
What to Do During a Power Outage
Check to see if your neighbors still have electricity.
If your neighbors have electricity, the problem could be inside your home. Check your main fuses or circuit breakers to see if they have blown or tripped.
If your neighbors do not have electricity, call your electric supplier. A repair person will be dispatched as quickly as possible. Your supplier should also be able to tell you if it will be an extended outage.
Unplug appliances with electronic components, such as microwaves, televisions, and DVD players. This will help eliminate damage to your appliances from voltage surges when the electricity is restored.
Wait a few minutes before turning on these appliances when the electricity is restored. This will reduce demand on the power supplier’s electrical system.
If you use a standby generator, be sure it has been installed and wired properly. If improperly installed, a generator could cause dangerous conditions for utility employees working to restore power.
Check the basement periodically for flooding. Never step into a flooded basement or room if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances, or cords.
Storm Emergency Kit
Assembling supplies before a storm arrives is one of the keys to weathering a storm emergency. Make sure your kit includes:
Flashlights with fresh batteries.
Matches for lighting gas stoves or clean burning heaters.
Wood for a properly ventilated fireplace.
First aid kit, prescription medicines, and baby supplies.
Food that can be kept in coolers and a manual can opener.
A non-cordless telephone and/or fully charged cellular phone.
Three day supply of bottled drinking water (one gallon per person per day).
Battery-powered emergency lights and radio.
Summer Power Outage Tips
Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. Wrap blankets around the appliances to provide extra insulation.
Make sure you have bottled water and a supply of freeze-dried or canned food in your emergency kit to prevent dependence on your refrigerator.
A barbecue grill is an excellent way to prepare food. Never use a charcoal grill to cook with or heat the home. Burning charcoal gives off deadly carbon monoxide gas. Charcoal grills should only be used outdoors.
Air conditioners should be turned off during power outages. Do not turn them back on for several minutes after the power has been restored.
Dress comfortably, and use natural ventilation to keep your home cool.
If the health of family members is a concern, stay with friends or family or go to a shelter.
Winter Power Outage Tips
Dress warmly. Several layers of clothing provide better insulation than a single layer of heavier clothing.
Move to a single room, preferably one with few windows. Ideally, this room should be on the south side of the home for maximum heat gain in the daytime.
The room should also be shut off from the rest of the house.
If you use an alternate heat source, be sure and follow operating instructions and properly ventilate.
To keep your water pipes from freezing, a small stream of water can be left on to prevent this.
Keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants and people over 65 are more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends or relatives or go to a shelter if you cannot keep your home warm.
Downed Power Lines Safety Tips
Accidents, severe storms, and other disasters can cause power lines to come down. With one wrong move before, during, or after a disaster, a life can be lost.
If you see downed power lines or other damaged electrical equipment, notify the local electric utility as soon as possible because the lines could still be live.
Just because power lines are damaged does not mean they are dead. Stay away, and instruct others to do the same.
Power lines do not have to be arcing or sparking to be live and dangerous.
Downed power lines, stray wires, and debris in contact with them all have the potential to deliver a fatal shock. Stay clear of fallen power lines and damaged areas that could hide a hazard. Be alert during clean-up efforts.
Treat all power lines as if they are energized until there is certainty that power has been disconnected.
If a power line has landed on the ground, there is the potential for the area nearby to be energized. Stay far away, and warn others to do the same.
Do not attempt to drive over a downed power line.
If you are driving and come along a downed power line, stay away and warn others to stay away. Contact emergency personnel or your utility company to address the downed power line.
If power lines should fall on your vehicle while you are driving, do not attempt to drive away or get out. Call for help, and stay inside until utility crews say it is safe to get out. The only exception would be if a fire or other danger, like the smell of gasoline, is present. In that case, the proper action is to jump—not step—with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Jump clear. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the vehicle and ground at the same time. In small shuffling steps, move at least 40 feet away from the vehicle.
Any power line that is dead could become energized at any moment due to power restoration or backup generators.
What to Do in Vehicle Accidents That Involve Power Lines
Instincts can help us to avoid danger but in some situations, our natural inclinations can lead to tragic results. If your car hits a utility pole or otherwise brings a power line down, getting out of a vehicle, with few exceptions, is the wrong thing to do until the line has been de-energized.
You are almost always better off to stay in the car, especially if the line is in contact with the vehicle.
Call or signal for help. It is safe to use a cell phone.
Warn others who may be nearby to stay away, and wait until the electric utility arrives to make sure power to the line is cut off.
If the power line is still energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path to ground for that electricity, and electrocution is the tragic result. Wait until the electric utility arrives and shuts off the power.
The only exception would be if a fire or other danger, like the smell of gasoline, is present. In that case, the proper action is to jump—not step—with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Jump clear. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the vehicle and ground at the same time. In small shuffling steps, move at least 40 feet from the vehicle. Like ripples in a pond or lake, the voltage diminishes the farther out it is from the source. Stepping from one voltage level to another allows the body to become a path for that electricity.
Even if a power line has landed on the ground, there is still the potential for the area near your car to be energized. Stay inside the vehicle unless there is fire or imminent risk of fire.
The same rules apply to situations involving farm equipment and construction equipment that comes in contact with overhead lines. Those working with large equipment should stay inside the vehicle if equipment extensions come in contact with power lines.
Back-Up Generator Safety Tips
Make sure you know how to operate the generator safely. Unsafe operation can threaten you, your family, neighbors and even the linemen working to restore power. Unsafe installation or operation may also result in a lawsuit and your insurance may not cover your liability.
Temporary-use generators should not be connected to the circuit breaker or fuse box and should not be plugged into a household outlet. Portable generators should only be used with extension cords to power lights and small appliances.
Permanently installed generators should be wired into your home by a qualified electrician, using a transfer switch that prevents potentially deadly back-feed.
Generators should only be operated outside a home to prevent toxic and potentially deadly exhaust from entering a home. Keep them away from children and pets.
Connect appliances to your portable generator after it has been started. Use only three-prong plugs that allow connections to be grounded.
When refueling generators, allow the engine to cool in order to prevent a fire should the gas tank overflow.
Be sure to use a heavy-duty extension cord rated for the wattage of the load being connected. When the generator is no longer needed, allow it to cool down before storing it.
If an appliance falls into water, unplug it before touching it. Even appliances that are turned off can shock you.
Never try to alter or override three prong plugs.
Ground Fault Interrupters and Surge Guard surge protectors can help protect you from injury and damage to your valuable electronic equipment.
Never override a fuse box by replacing a fuse with a penny.
Overuse of extension cords can cause overloads and may be dangerous.
Too many appliances on one outlet can cause a fire.
Have your heating system inspected every heating season. Remember also that changing your filter can save you money by making the system more efficient.
Use space heaters carefully. Keep them away from drapes and flammable material. Be extremely careful when using them around small children.
Keep electric cords away from heat sources and away from water.
Use properly insulated extension cords and grasp the plug, not the cord, when unplugging.
Disconnect extension cords when not in use.
Always call on a professional to trim tree branches around power lines.
Never put staples or nails in utility poles. They increase the risk of falls to linemen.
Don’t touch downed power lines. Contact our Member Services Center at 800-240-3400 immediately.
Keep ladders and other objects away from power lines.
Never build a pool or spa, or place a child’s pool, under electrical lines.
Never fly kites or drones near overhead power lines.
During storms, stay out of lakes, pools and spas.
Don’t touch metal fencing after a storm.
Don’t try to guess whether a downed line is an electrical line or a telephone line. Assume any downed wires are energized. Stay away and keep others away.
Flooding Safety Tips
Be alert to electrical equipment that could be energized and in contact with water, along with other potential hazards that create a serious risk of electrocution.
Never step into a flooded basement or other room if water may be in contact with electrical outlets, appliances, or cords.
Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you cannot reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
Never use electric appliances or touch electric wires, switches, or fuses when you are wet or standing in water.
Keep electric tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from wet surfaces. Do not use electric yard tools if it is raining or the ground is wet.
Electric motors in can be damaged when wet and should not be used after a storm until they have been inspected and approved by a professional. It may be necessary to have some of them repaired or replaced.
A good safety measure is to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) professionally installed on outlets. GFCIs are recommended for outdoor outlets and outlets near wet areas of the home such as kitchens, baths, and laundry rooms.