Power outages are inevitable. Do everything you can to be prepared.
Prepare For Hurricane Season
Planning and preparing can make a big difference in safety and resiliency in the wake of a hurricane. The ability to quickly recover following a hurricane requires a focus on preparedness, advance planning, and knowing what to do in the event of a hurricane.
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. Members can also receive real-time outage alerts through the WCEC's SmartHub App! Learn how here.
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.
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.