Electric cooperative employees are prepared when a winter storm is expected. Two issues can arise for utilities during winter storms. The first is outages caused by ice and wind. The second is vehicle accidents causing downed power lines.
It doesn’t take much wind and ice to cause overhead electrical conductors to “gallop,” placing additional stress on poles and cross arms. In addition, the ice can cause tree limbs to bend or break, bringing down power lines in their path. Even as the ice begins to melt, trees will again shift and may touch lines causing blinks or outages.
Second, as the roads become slick, accidents involving power poles become an issue. Citizens should know if they are involved in an accident where a pole or wires land on or near their vehicle, they should never exit until utility personnel say it is safe to do so. They can report the situation from a cellphone within the vehicle.
If someone sees a downed power line or pole, they should stay far away and never assume the equipment has been de-energized. Citizens should call 911 if they’re unsure which utility provider it belongs to — emergency dispatchers can assist in contacting the correct provider to respond to the situation.
More safety information, including winter safety information and electrical safety tips, is available from Energizing Safety at www.energizingsafety.coop. Road conditions and closures for the area are available by visiting the traveler map at www.modot.org.
All-in-all, rest assured that your local electric cooperative is prepared to assist you when winter storms hit. Lineworkers are on call and ready to report to assist in restoring power as quickly and safely as possible.