Safety tips for storm season

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Storm season is upon us, as we saw with the storms that passed through the Quad Cities in late May. Ameren Illinois has offered some tips to help prepare you for the remainder of this stormy season.

The vice president of Operations and Technical Service, Ron Pate said the first rule of safety is to stay away from downed power lines. If you see a fallen or sagging wire, always assume that it is energized and dangerous.

If you are experiencing a power outage after sunset, Ameren advises you do not go outside because you will not be able to see a downed power line. Also, stay away from brush, shrubs and downed trees that could hide downed lines.

Residents should take precautions before a storm hits to prepare for a power outage or loss of natural gas service.

  • Make sure your phone is fully charged
  • Unplug or protect sensitive computer equipment with a high-quality surge protector
  • Prepare a storm kit and keep it in a centrally located part of your home – click here for a list of items to include in a storm kit
  • Turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting and leave the refrigerator closed to keep food fresh for longer

When the power is out, it’s important to keep food safety in mind- if in doubt, throw it out.

  • If the doors stay cold, food inside the fridge will stay cold for around four hours. If the door stays closed, a full freezer will hold its temperature for 48 hours. A half full freezer will maintain temperature for about 24 hours
  • Keep meat, seafood, and dairy products as cold as possible and throw away any perishable food that has been above 40-degrees for over two hours
  • If the power outage has the possibility of lasting more than a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items

Those who plan on using portable generators during power outages must remember that they can become deadly when not used properly.

  • Those who install a portable generator should also install a safety disconnect switch to prevent the electricity by the generator from feeding back into the utility lines
  • Never plug a generator directly into an outlet to power a home
  • Back fed power poses an unseen hazard to utility personnel who are working on power lines and can also damage property
  • Never operate portable generators inside a garage or other building because  generator engines produce deadly carbon monoxide

Keep in mind electrical safety before and during a flood.

  • If you detect a natural gas odor, immediately leave the building, do not turn lights on or off, operate any electrical device, or use a phone or light a match anywhere in or outside of the building
  • When water comes into contact with energized electrical wiring, appliances and other devices it creates a threat for injury and electrocution
  • Never enter a flooded basement or other flooded area where water may be in contact with electrical wiring, appliances and other devices
  • Never attempt to turn off power at the main electrical panel box if you must stand in water or on a wet floor to do so
  • Never use electrical appliances or devices or touch electrical switches, outlets or cords if you are standing in water or are on a wet surface, or even if you are wet or the device is wet
  • Keep electric-powered tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from water and wet surfaces
  • If flood waters are likely to reach the controls of a natural gas furnace, water heater, or other appliance call to have the service shut off.

After a flood,

  • Before touching or unplugging electrical appliances that have been in contact with water, turn off the circuit that feeds the appliance or device, or disconnect power to the building
  • If you have doubts about the safety of your home, building, or electrical system, have it inspected by a professional electrician
  • Have a professional service person inspect any electrical or natural gas appliances that were either partially or entirely submerged in water to determine if it can be used

Always call as soon as possible to report a downed line or natural gas odor.