Outage prep: A guide to severe weather

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Here in Michigan, we’re no strangers to storms and power outages during all seasons.

Just one month ago, severe thunderstorms knocked out power to thousands of Consumers Energy and Indiana-Michigan Power customers in West Michigan, with some restoration efforts taking nearly a week to complete.

With more severe weather expected Tuesday, you might be wondering how you can prepare for the worst.

Crisis Equipped, along with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, recommend taking a number of steps to get ready for severe weather.

Preparing for severe weather

Even though severe weather and outages are out of your control, you can reduce the negative effects by preparing ahead of time:

  • Fill up your gas tank: If the power goes out, so do charging stations and gas stations.
  • Unplug and turn off all electronics (except the fridge): When the electricity comes back on, there could be a power surge that could damage electrical equipment attached to an outlet. Consider doing this with a power strip too.
  • Garage door: Learn how to open your garage door without power or park outside to avoid being unable to leave.
  • Buy flashlights and batteries: If an outage is at night, flashlights help you navigate your home. For kids who are afraid of the dark, consider purchasing flashlight lanterns that give off enough light to fill a bedroom.
  • Food: Try to keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed to save food. Consider buying extra ice and coolers to help. Stock up on water and non-perishables to help avoid using these appliances.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning: Use gas tools, like generators, outside and away from windows; don’t use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. If you use your car to charge devices, move the car outside of the garage for ventilation.
  • Prepare your shelter: Wherever you seek shelter during storms, have extra bedding and food stored there. Consider having extra blankets and food in your car in case you can’t make it home.

 

                                                           

Save your phone’s battery life

If you need to communicate during an outage, you want as much battery left on your phone as possible. Take these steps to help conserve battery life:

  • Keep it plugged in: Until an outage happens, keep your phone charging.
  • Close out and restart: Exit any apps you have open and reboot your phone to keep them from draining extra battery.
  • Turn down screen brightness: The brighter your screen is, the more power it consumes.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and push notifications: These functions all use extra battery in the background.
  • Charge a backup battery pack: If you have a battery-powered charger for your phone, make sure it’s at maximum capacity for an extra charge.
  • Text, don’t call: Sending a text consumes less battery than making a phone call or using video apps.

Activities during an outage

If an outage occurs, you’ll be without electricity and you’ll want to save your phone battery for emergencies. Genarac has some ideas to help pass the time:

  • Play games: Charades, board games, card games and hide-and-seek are all favorites and will help pass the time.
  • Read books: With barely any time and many distractions, it’s hard to find time to read good books. You can spend time reading individually or to someone else.
  • Stargaze: When the storm is over and it’s nighttime, light pollution won’t stop you from seeing the stars.
  • Tackle projects/to-do list: This could mean finishing or starting home projects, cleaning out spaces or doing craft projects, this a time to complete them.
  • Bike rides or walks: If the storm has passed, you could go for a walk or a bike ride.

Safety tips

In the event of an outage, you might be exposed to some dangers you’re not normally aware of. Consumers Energy provides these tips to remain safe during an outage:

  • Downed wires: Stay at least 25 feet away from downed wires, keep children or pets away, and report the issue by calling 9-1-1 and your utility provider. Consumers Energy crews are taking extra health and safety precautions because of the COVID-19 situation and asks the public to keep at least six feet of distance from its crews.
  • Ventilate generators: A portable generator should be placed at least 25 feet away from any doors, windows or fresh air intakes. Never operate a generator inside your home, garage, basement or enclosed area. Proper ventilation is critical.
  • Be alert to crews working along roads: Drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely can go past workers on roadsides.
  • Clean up debris: Consumers Energy will trim or remove trees interfering with electric restoration activities. Once safe to do so, clean-up of debris from tree trimming or removal during a storm emergency is the responsibility of individual property owners.

Consumers Energy customers can report an outage or view the status of a reported outage at the Consumers Energy Outage Center. To report a downed wire to Consumers Energy, call 800-477-5050.

Indiana-Michigan Power customers can report an outage or view the status of a reported outage on the Indiana-Michigan Power website. To report a downed wire to Indiana-Michigan Power, call 800-311-4634.

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