Utilities offer advice for power outages

High winds and heavy snow often cause power outages in Vermont, and Central Vermont Public Service, Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Cooperative have teamed up with advice for customers when outages occur. When damage is extensive, it often takes hours or even days to get all customers back on-line, so a little planning can make being without power a little less stressful.

The utilities offered the following advice:

Before outages occur, be sure you have a phone that is hardwired and does not rely on electricity.

Fill a bathtub with water before you lose service so the water can be used to flush toilets when the power is out. Prevent unsupervised bathroom access to children.

Treat any downed line as if it is live. Report the line to your local utility and fire department, stay at least 50 feet away from the line, and keep children and pets away as well.

If using a generator, read and follow the owner's manual before starting the generator. Never operate a generator inside any structure or near a structure. Use a transfer switch to ensure electricity is not accidentally fed onto a line where line crews must work.

Keep freezers and refrigerators closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage.

If power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances except one light so you'll know when service returns. Then, turn equipment back on slowly.

Never use grills inside for warmth, as the fumes can be poisonous.

In addition, it's a good idea to have a supply of flashlights and fresh batteries on hand. If using candles or oil lamps, be careful not to place them near flammable surfaces - especially Christmas trees or decorations, and make sure they are not accessible to pets and children.

A little planning will make dealing with power outages bearable, if not exactly pleasant.

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