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Press Release

PUC Offers Winter Storm Tips; Reminds Residents to Prepare, Report Outages and Consider Safety

Published on 1/21/2016

Filed under: Electric

HARRISBURG – As residents across Pennsylvania prepare for the first major winter storm of the season – Winter Storm Jonas – the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today reminded customers of what to do in the event of a power outage.

“Preparation is essential, so take a few minutes before the storm hits to address some key items like making note of utility company hotlines, charging your cell phone and securing necessary food, medicine and other supplies,” said Chairman Gladys M. Brown.

Chairman Brown noted that there is an extensive amount of work currently going on behind the scenes to prepare for this storm. The PUC is in close communication with utilities across the state and based on those reports, utilities are putting their storm response plans into motion; crews and equipment are being positioned for quick response to outages; and utilities are enhancing their communication with emergency management coordinators across the state. The PUC will continue to monitor the situation and will stay in close contact with the Governor’s Office and the other state agencies involved in Pennsylvania’s coordinated storm response.

Pre-Storm tips:

  • Write down, print or save toll-free “outage reporting hotlines” to your cell phone – That’s the number you need to call if you lose power. 
  • Save the Internet address for your utility’s outage reporting system, which can provide an interactive picture of ongoing repair efforts.
  • Check social media, like Facebook and Twitter, for utility updates and important storm-related information. 

Note: While many utilities use social media to highlight important information, consumers should not use social media to report outages or share account information, addresses or other personal information. Instead, always call the official utility outage hotline. Residents should also be aware that when electricity is lost, priority restoration is given to locations that can restore larger numbers of customers and high priority customers such as nursing homes, emergency shelters, emergency governmental services and hospitals.

Should you lose power during a storm, the PUC offers the following tips:

  • Call your utility. Do not assume that the utility already knows about your outage or that others in your neighborhood have already called.
  • Use a phone that does not require electricity to work. A cellular phone or corded phone will work. Remember a cordless phone won’t work without electricity.
  • Do NOT call 9-1-1 to report power outages. Those calls take dispatchers away from other emergencies and can also slow a storm response because you're not talking directly to the utility.
  • Turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary "surges" or "spikes" that can damage equipment. After you turn the lights off, turn one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
  • Only use a flashlight or battery-operated lanterns for emergency lighting. Do not use candles or other potential fire hazards.
  • If you are going to use a generator, do not run it inside a home or garage. Also, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator, not your home's electrical system, which could shock or injure utility crews working on nearly power lines. Additional generator tips are available here.
  • Do NOT touch or get near any fallen lines, and stay away from objects or puddles in contact with downed power lines.
  • If you have a downed power line or another hazardous situation, call 9-1-1 and contact your utility.
  • Do NOT try to remove trees or limbs from power lines.
  • Check on elderly neighbors and those with special needs who might need additional assistance. 

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at Follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC for all things utility.  “Like” Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Facebook for easy access to information on utility issues.

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