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Electric Power Outages: A PUCO Guide to Being Prepared

Electric Power Outages: A PUCO Guide to Being Prepared

While the electric distribution system in Ohio is typically safe and reliable, service interruptions can result from weather conditions such as thunderstorms, high winds, or snow storms. The PUCO has some suggestions and answers to frequently asked questions if weather events should occur and cause a service interruption.

Being Prepared Year-Round

For practical purposes, every home should have a storm kit. The following items should be included for those unexpected power interruptions.

  • Portable, battery-powered radio
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries
  • Manual can opener and bottle opener
  • A supply of non-perishable foods needing little or no cooking (Be sure you pack any special dietary foods, baby food and formula, if needed.)
  • Water stored in clean, non-corrosive, non-breakable, tightly covered containers such as soft drink bottles — plan for at least two quarts per person per day
  • Personal hygiene products, sanitary supplies, diapers and first aid supplies
  • Ice chest and ice or frozen ice packs
  • Camp stove or canned heat stove, and fuel for three to five days; or hibachi grill and charcoal
  • If possible, have access to a cellular phone. Your home’s hardwire or cordless telephone may not work without electricity.

You will also want to know how to manually open and close any electric garage doors, security doors or gates. Have surge protectors on important electrical equipment such as computers, DVD players and televisions. Be aware that during an outage, gas appliances with electronic ignitions will not work because electricity is needed to ignite the natural gas. Appliances requiring fans or other electric devices to run (such as central heating units and gas clothes dryers) will not operate.

What should I do during a power outage?

All outages should be immediately reported to your electric company. Since many other customers may be calling at the same time, you may not be able to speak with a live person. You can still report your outage by following the automated instructions. This will let the utility company know the location and extent of the outage. The company must keep a record of all outages. To report an outage call:

American Electric Power
(800) 672-2231
Report an outage online

Duke Energy Ohio
(513) 651-4182
(800) 543-5599
Report an outage online

Dayton Power & Light
(937) 331-3900
(800) 433-8500
www.dpandl.com

FirstEnergy
(800) 589-3101 (CEI Division)
(800) 633-4766 (OE Division)
(800) 447-3333 (TE Division)
www.firstenergycorp.com

You should also unplug all major appliances and electronics, such as computers and televisions, to protect them from a possible power surge when the power comes back on. By leaving one light on, you will be able to tell when your service is restored.

During cold weather, keep warm safely. Put on extra clothes or wrap up in blankets. Don't rely on gas stoves, kerosene space heaters, charcoal grills or other open-flame heat sources. Deadly carbon monoxide gas, which is odorless and invisible, may build up in your home without you realizing it.

What can the PUCO do during a power outage?

In certain instances, the PUCO will monitor the situation and may assist in the coordination of services that enable the power company to restore power more quickly, such as working with the department of transportation to clear icy roads after a winter storm. If the outage is severe enough, the PUCO will receive information and updates concerning the outage, but the PUCO cannot restore your service. Your electric company is the best source for updated information concerning the expected time that your service will be restored.

How does the electric company prioritize restoration?

The company will first assess the extent and geographical locations of the outage. Restoration of power to critical facilities, including police and fire stations, hospitals, and water plants is the primary goal of the company. After service is restored in these areas, the company can then focus on others without power.

What if a member of my family is on medical or life support during a power outage?

The PUCO requires all electric companies to maintain a list of critical customers. However, this list does not guarantee uninterrupted service or immediate service restoration in the event of an outage. The PUCO requires that electric companies notify their customers annually about the critical customer program. The electric company must also provide critical customers with written information concerning options and responsibilities during outages. Those in this situation should plan for contingency measures, such as back-up generators, an alternate power source, or evacuation to another location.

What can be done to reduce outages in my neighborhood?

Your electric company has the right to trim or remove any obstruction in electric lines that may cause service problems during heavy winds, or even during calm conditions. This generally refers to the trimming of trees, but may include any object that interferes with electric lines.

If you see something that has the potential to cause problems, notify your power company and give them the location of the obstruction.

What should I do if I see a downed utility line?

Do not touch or attempt to move the line. The current running through the line can be deadly. You should contact emergency personnel and the electric company immediately. Stay a safe distance from the line at all times.

Additional Information

Ohio's electric distribution utilities also offer information regarding storms and power outages at the links below.

American Electric Power

Dayton Power and Light

 Duke Energy Ohio

FirstEnergy

Ohio Rural Coops (not regulated by PUCO)