STAY INFORMED

Extended power outages can occur for many reasons, but are most commonly due to major storms or severe weather. Not only are they an inconvenience to our members, but they can also impact the whole community. Communication towers may not work and utility services such as water and sewage may not be available. Most businesses will be closed including grocery stores, gas stations, and banks. Food spoilage and water contamination can occur, and medical facilities may not be available.

While it is our priority to restore power as quickly as it is safe to do so, restoration times will depend greatly on the extent of any damage to our electrical system.  If the damage is widespread, restoring power may take some time. We have seen heavily damaged systems take days and sometimes weeks to be completely restored.

During an outage, WCEC crews work to restore power to the largest number of people first. After power is restored to the cooperative’s main feeders, the co-op’s crews then address issues in smaller neighborhoods or at individual homes. See the systematic approach to restoration after major damage to our system here

During major outage situations, WCEC strives to keep our members up to date with the latest information. 

Check WCEC's Outage Central for updates or follow our Facebook page. 

Because our Facebook page, website, and email are not tied to our outage-reporting system and are not monitored 24/7, please report all outages by calling 979-543-6271.

We encourage our members to follow their local emergency management offices and sign up for local emergency alerts. You can use the links at right to find your local offices.

PLANNING FOR EXTENDED OUTAGES

  • Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity.
  • Talk to your medical provider about a power outage plan for medical devices powered by electricity and refrigerated medicines. Find out how long medication can be stored at higher temperatures and get specific guidance for any medications that are critical for life.
  • Plan for batteries and other alternatives to meet your needs when the power goes out.
  • Sign up for local alerts and warning systems. Monitor weather reports.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backup in central locations on every level of your home.
  • Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last.
  • Review the supplies that are available in case of a power outage. Have flashlights with extra batteries for every household member. Have enough nonperishable food and water.
  • Use a thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer so that you can know the temperature when the power is restored. Throw out food if the temperature is 40 degrees or higher.
  • Keep mobile phones and other electric equipment charged and gas tanks full.
  • Report your outage by calling WCEC at 979-543-6271.
     
  • Safety First:
    • If you plan to use a generator, know how to operate it safely.
    • Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.
    • Unplug all appliances and electronics so they won’t get damaged with power restoration.
    • If power lines are on the ground, stay far away from them and warn others to stay away.  Contact WCEC and let us know because the lines could still be live.
    • Any power line that is dead could become energized at any moment due to power restoration or backup generators.
    • Check on friends and relatives—especially children, seniors, and those with medical conditions or disabilities. These people may need to seek emergency cooling shelters.
    • Go to a community location with power if heat or cold is extreme.
    • Keep a first-aid kit in your home and one in your car. Make sure that it includes scissors, tweezers, safety pins, aspirin, eyewash and rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.
       
  • Keeping Cool:
    • If it's a hot time of year, dress in loose, lightweight clothing and stay on the coolest, lowest level of your home.
    • Use natural ventilation to cool homes, and consider purchasing battery-powered fans.
    • Drink plenty of water and avoid heavy meals, caffeinated drinks, and alcohol.
    • Close all drapes and blinds on the sunny side of your residence.
    • Take your family and pets to a basement or other cool location if you have one. Also, consider going to an air-conditioned public place during warmer daytime hours.
    • Keeping Warm:
      • Stay inside, and dress warmly. Staying warm is a priority. Dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight warm clothing. Wear hats, mittens, and scarves.
      • Close off unneeded rooms to keep the heat in your living areas.
      • Place a draft block at the bottom of doors to minimize cold drafts from entering the house.
      • When using an alternative heat source, follow operating instructions, use fire safeguards, and be sure to properly ventilate. Always keep a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher nearby, and know how to use it.
      • Keep a close eye on the temperature in your home. Infants and people over the age of 65 are often more susceptible to the cold. You may want to stay with friends or relatives or go to a shelter if you cannot keep your home warm.
         
    • Maintaining Food:
      • Keep refrigerator or freezer doors closed. A freezer that is half full or full can keep foods frozen 24 to 48 hours. Foods can stay safe in an unopened refrigerator for up to four hours. If an outage lasts longer than four hours, remove and pack meat, milk and other dairy products in a cooler with ice.
      • Maintain food supplies that do not require refrigeration.
      • Use safe alternative food preparations. A barbecue grill is an excellent way to prepare food. Always grill outside.
    • When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for two hours or more, or that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.
    • If the power is out for more than a day, discard any medication that should be refrigerated, unless the drug’s label says otherwise. If a life depends on the refrigerated drugs, consult a doctor or pharmacist and use the medicine only until a new supply is available.

    OUTAGE SAFETY

    Emergency Supplies

    WCEC encourages all members to prepare for the worst. Members should have an emergency kit assembled in the event they are without power for several days. The American Red Cross recommends these essentials be kept on hand.

    • Styrofoam coolers to preserve food

    • Ice to keep food cold

    • Water—one gallon per person, per day

    • Food—non-perishable, easy-to prepare

    • Flashlights

    • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio

    • Extra batteries

    • First aid kit

    • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items

    • Multi-purpose tool

    • Sanitation and personal hygiene items

    • Cell phone with charger

    • Family and emergency contacts

    • Copies of personal documents

    • Extra cash

    • Emergency blanket

    • Map of area

    • Baby supplies

    • Pet supplies

    • Tool/supplies for securing home

    • Extra sets of keys

    • Extra clothing, hat, and sturdy shoes

    • Rain gear

    • Insect repellent and sunscreen

    • Camera for photos of any damage

    Generator Safety

    If used improperly, a back-up generator can make life a lot more dangerous. Every year, people die in incidents related to portable generator use following prolonged power outages. WCEC urges our members to exercise extreme caution when operating portable generators.

    • Follow the manufacturer instructions to protect you and your family.
    • Never connect a generator to the house wiring unless you have had a qualified electrician hook up a standby electrical system – including the installation of a transfer switch to isolate the generator from the electric utility service. Without the transfer switch, the power from the generator will back feed through the transformer and kill any serviceman trying to restore the power down the line.
    • Keep the generator dry, and do not use it in rainy or wet conditions. Make sure your hands are dry before touching the generator.
    • Never use a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space. Operate it on a dry surface under an open, canopy-like structure. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) very quickly. CO cannot be smelled or seen, so even if you don’t smell exhaust fumes you could still be exposed to CO.
    • If you start to feel sick, dizzy or weak while operating a generator, get to fresh air right away. CO can cause incapacitation or death quickly. Call 911 and inform the medical staff that you suspect CO poisoning. Before you return to the property, the local fire department should determine whether it is safe to do so.
    • Never store the fuel for your generator inside your home. Flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly labeled, non-glass containers. Do not store them near a fuel-burning appliance such as a natural gas heater. If fuel is spilled or left in a container that is not properly sealed, invisible vapor from the fuel can travel along the ground and be ignited by the appliance’s pilot light or by arcs from electrical switches in the appliance.
    • Before refueling a generator, turn it off and let it cool down. Fuel spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.

     

    Downed Power Lines

    One of the greatest dangers following severe weather is downed power lines – they carry extremely high currents and can seriously injure or kill, even if they aren’t sparking or buzzing. Do not assume that just because a line is on the ground it does not still have power running through it. In event of flood: If you see a power line entering the water, do not go near it or the water.

    Always avoid downed power lines and remember these safety tips:

    • Report downed power lines immediately to 911 or to the local utility.
    • Warn others away from downed lines until law enforcement or emergency crews arrive.
    • Never try to move a downed power line with a board or stick. High voltage electricity can jump unpredictable distances.
    • If someone is in direct or indirect contact with a downed line, don’t touch them. You could become another victim by trying to help. Call 911 immediately.

    HOW DOES WCEC PREPARE?

    We also stay prepared for severe weather by...

    • Trimming trees year-round to minimize potential damage.
    • Putting additional crew members and tree crews on alert when severe weather's on its way.
    • Sending out crews in 16-hour shifts until power is restored in storm and outage situations.
    • Reaching out to crews from neighboring cooperatives in a major storm or outage event.
    Email Series

    WCEC'S EDUCATIONAL SERIES

    Are You Ready for Hurricane Season?

    Planning and preparing can make a big difference in safety and resiliency in the wake of a hurricane. Subscribe to Hurricane 101: Preparedness Series to get the best information on Hurricane Prep and use the links below to explore resources from FEMA and Ready.gov.

    SUBSCRIBE TO WCEC'S HURRICANE SERIES HERE

    FEMA HURRICANE KIT       READY.GOV WEBSITE      NWS HURRICANE GUIDE     NWS HURRICANE GUIDE (SPANISH)