Power Outage FAQ
While underground lines are not outage proof, they are less susceptible to wind damage, which is always present in hurricane situations. Underground lines, however, may present restoration challenges when flooding is involved. It also takes a longer amount of time and specialized equipment to find problems with underground cables.
Preventative maintenance is the best tool against outages. In addition to ensuring the lines, poles, and transformers are in top-notch condition, the state’s electric cooperatives employ an aggressive tree trimming and right-of-way clearing program. After a hurricane, downed trees and branches are usually the primary cause of outages. Keeping the power lines right of ways clear reduces the chances of tree-related outages.
Very rarely does wind alone impact an electric system. Our electric systems are built to easily withstand 65+ MPH winds. If you took an average electric system and put it out in the middle of a field, the winds would blow right by it and not affect the electric system. It’s the trees and other things which are affected by the winds that bring down electric systems.
Our goal is to restore service to as many consumers as rapidly and safely as possible. As a rule of thumb, power is usually restored in this order: transmission circuits, substations, distribution lines and individual structures. We give special consideration to public safety facilities such a hospitals, nursing homes, fire departments, emergency shelters, water and sewage systems, grocery stores and town halls.
CKenergy maintains a list of members dependent on life support medical systems. Members on this special needs list are strongly encouraged to seek shelter in an emergency facility or travel inland to an area where storm damage is less likely to occur. There is no guarantee that electric service will not be interrupted in the event of a storm, so emergency plans should be made well in advance. Personal preparations are the full responsibility of the individual.
All of CKenergy’s full-time and part-time employees are involved, in one way or another, in the restoration process. The most visible are the linemen, who are the individuals trained in the construction and maintenance of power lines. In addition, we have crews from sister cooperatives in Oklahoma and all across the country who can come in and assist. Contract crews, our own and those who work with other cooperatives, are also called in to help with the restoration process.
Everyone goes on standby on high alert to provide assistance as quickly as possible after the storm. Being on alert and prepared enables us to instantly get to work once the high winds or inclement weather subsides.
That’s determined by the intensity of the storm. Crew safety is a major consideration. As soon as it’s safe to restore power, power restoration begins. To facilitate the process, crews and supplies are staged close to the predicted storm damage so restoration can begin as soon as safely possible.
Once the power goes out, it’s important to turn off every unneeded electrical item. Every item requiring electricity puts a strain on the system. The less initial electric demand on the system, generally the quicker power can be fully restored. If the initial demand is too great, the system will overload and the power will go off again. There are two exceptions. A light inside the house should be left on to signal when power has been restored and the porch light should be switched on so cooperative line personnel can tell which homes have their electricity back.
Once power is restored, gradually turn on lights, air conditioners, heaters, and other electrical appliances back on, say over a half an hour, to ease the demand on the system.
No, the cooperative doesn’t plan to turn off power manually during a storm. However, the cooperative might re-set the mechanical process to shut itself down when weather conditions are unfavorable, particularly in high winds.
If you see a downed power line, STAY AWAY!! And call the cooperative immediately.
- Leave your porch light on so line personnel will know when your power has been restored.
- Turn off all unnecessary appliances to prevent further drain on the utility’s electric systems.
- Stay away from fallen power lines. Assume that any line is conducting electricity.
- People should always stay away from downed or sagging power lines. All downed power lines should be treated as if they were energized and potentially deadly. If you see a downed line, stay away and call the cooperative or 911.
- Generator safety: Under no circumstances, should gas-powered generators be used indoors or in attached garages. Burning charcoal grills and portable generators create carbon monoxide, so should only be used outdoors. You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide. Opening a window or using a fan does not help. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms include dizziness, fatigue, and nausea. Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can cause death.
If you use a portable generator to supply electricity during a power outage, be safe and know the facts. If generators are used improperly, they can kill you and the people who are restoring power to your building or home. Connecting a generator to the main electrical supply for your house requires the services of a qualified, licensed electrician. If you use a standby generator during a power outage, contact the cooperative.
With a freezer that’s full, foods can stay frozen up to 72 hours. A half-full freezer can still keep food frozen up to 24 hours after the power goes out. Should the power stay off for several days, dry ice can preserve food in the freezer. If you have a picnic cooler, and time to make ice in your own refrigerator, fill the cooler before the storm hits. Try to resist the urge to look inside and check on the items in the refrigerator/freezer.