Do you have a storm safety plan for when bad weather strikes? At REMC, we encourage our members to be prepared before a devastating event hits the area.
During a prolonged power outage or other emergency, this means having enough food, water and supplies to last at least a few days.
In honor of National Preparedness Month in September, I want to remind members of our community about the power of preparation. While you don’t have to achieve a “doomsday prepper” level of preparedness, there are several practical steps you can take to keep you and your family safe.
Even at a modest level, preparation can help reduce stress, anxiety and lessen the impact of an emergency event. We recommend starting with the basics.
When large storms bear down on our service territory, you may see me on local news stations, reminding our members of the “3 Bs.” I like to keep storm prep easy to remember by focusing on the most important things.
1Basics: If you lost power, do you have enough water to last for a few days? You will need drinking water, but also water for hygiene purposes. If you are on well water, fill the bathtub before you lose power, so you will have water to flush toilets during an outage.
2Batteries: Before the storm hits, make sure you find all your flashlights and fill them with new batteries. The entire family should know the location of the flashlights so that when the outage occurs, you are not left literally “in the dark.”
3Back-up plan: Have you communicated a Plan B to others? If you had to leave your home, where would you go? Discuss these plans with your family and loved ones before the storm.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency discusses these steps and more in their general guidelines for storm preparation:
- Assemble a grab-and-go disaster kit. Include items like nonperishable food, water (one gallon per person, per day), diapers, batteries, flashlights, prescription medications, first-aid kit, battery-powered radio and phone chargers.
- Specify how you will communicate with family and friends (i.e., via text, social media, third party, etc.).
- Have some extra cash available; during a power outage, electronic card readers and cash machines may not work.
- Store important documents (birth certificates, property deed, etc.) in a safe place away from home (for example, a bank safe deposit box).
- Keep neighbors and coworkers apprised of your emergency plans.
- Fill your car with gas.
- Organize all your supplies so they are together in an easily accessible location that family members know about.
If you have a generator, ensure that it is in good working order. Remember never to use your generator in an enclosed space because it will give off carbon monoxide (CO) fumes. CO is an odorless, toxic gas, so generators must operate with plenty of air circulation away from you and family members. We will have more information about generator safety in Watts Working issues to come.
Caring for vulnerable family members before the storm
If you have older family members or those with special needs, check to see if they have enough medication and supplies for a few days. If they don’t live with you, arrange for a neighbor to check in on them. If a severe weather event is expected, consider having your relative stay with you if feasible, otherwise call them daily. If you have an infant or young children, make certain that you have ample formula, diapers, medication and other supplies on hand to weather an outage lasting several days or more.
Keeping four-legged family members safe
For families with pets, having a plan in place in the event of a prolonged outage or an emergency will help reduce worry and stress especially if you need to make a decision during an emergency.
- Bring pets indoors at the first sign of a storm or other emergency. Pets can become disoriented and frightened during severe weather and may wander off during an emergency.
- Microchip your pet and ensure the contact information is up to date.
- Store pet medical records on a USB drive or in an easy-to-remember location.
- Create an emergency kit for pets (include shelf-safe food, bottled water, medications and other supplies).
If you experience an outage, call 1-877-REMC-OFF (1-877-736-2633) to report the outage. We will post updates on our social media channels and major news outlets to keep you apprised of the situation.
At Randolph Electric, we care about your safety. Every day, we work to reduce the probability of power outage events and to limit their duration. Despite our precautions, we must acknowledge that catastrophic events can occur and lead to prolonged outages. In the event of such weather, we want our members to be safe. Planning for an emergency situation today can give you more confidence to deal with severe weather and potential outages in the future.