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Power outage do's and dont's

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On Wednesday, the 5th of February, Montgomery County officials issued a disaster declaration, thus paving the way to receive state and federal funding if needed. And that may very well turn out to be the case.

Initially, PECO reported that more than 443,000 houses in the five-county Greater Philadelphia area went dark during last week’s snow/ice storm. 187,000 of them were right here in Montco, which means that about two-thirds of us were affected. And while a massive effort has gotten the lights on in most of those homes, even now at day 6, 18,765 are without power in this region; as for Montgomery County, the number stands at 4,300.

Meanwhile, adding insult to injury, between two and three more inches of the white stuff fell on us last night, with forecasters predicting some sort of “winter event” for Wednesday night. And since it’s only February 10, we still have a long way to go, so ahead of the next go-round:

  • Stock up on water bottles and non-perishable food items on hand.
  • Charge all your devices.
  • Have a battery-operated radio on hand; KYW will keep you company and well-advised.
  • Test flashlights.
  • Have extra batteries of all sizes on hand.
  • Invest in a carbon monoxide monitor.
  • Fill your car’s gas tank.
  • Keep blankets and water in your car.

And should the power go out for an extended time at your house, here are some tips to help keep you safe and sound:

  1. Call PECO’s outage center at 1-(800)-841-4141, or PPL Electric at 1-(800)-342-5775.
  2. Do NOT try to move damaged power lines yourself; instead report them to your electricity provider.
  3. Do NOT walk near, over, or around down wires.
  4. Report downed trees and/or tree limbs to the Norristown Public Works Department at 610-270-0437.
  5. Do NOT call 911.
  6. Do NOT use the oven to keep warm.
  7. Do NOT bring the grill indoors to keep warm to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning; it’s invisible, odorless, and toxic.
  8. Do NOT light your way with candles.
  9. Do keep space heaters far from drapes, curtains, and anything else that’s flammable.
  10. Do keep your generator outdoors, with only electrical cables running indoors.
  11. Do turn off the generator before refueling.
  12. Do NOT leave a fire going in the fireplace unattended.
  13. Do allow faucets to run at a drip to prevent water pipes from freezing.
  14. Do check on elderly friends, relatives, and neighbors.

Best bet: Instead of sticking it out, head to a shelter, hotel, friend’s or relative’s house until your lights come back on. And all the while, think spring, maybe putting the Philadelphia Flower Show on your to-do list, too, for an early taste of the good weather that's sure to eventually come our way.

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