To protect against the hazards of the aftermath of severe storms, follow this safety advice:
- Stay away from any downed line, even if you think it's phone or cable TV.
- Take care when stepping into a flooded area, and be aware that submerged outlets or electrical cords may energize the water, posing a potential lethal trap.
- Do not use electrical appliances that have been wet. Water can damage the motors in electrical appliances, such as furnaces, freezers, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers. For those that have been under water, have them reconditioned by a qualified service repairman, or purchase new ones.
- Take special care with portable electric generators, which can provide a good source of power, but if improperly installed or operated, can become deadly.
- Do not connect generators directly to household wiring. Power from generators can backfeed along power lines and electrocute anyone coming in contact with them, including line workers making repairs. A qualified, licensed electrician should install your generator to ensure that it meets local electrical codes.
- Make sure extension cords used with generators are rated for the load, and are free of cuts or worn insulation, and have three-pronged plugs.
- Do not operate the generator in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. Generators can produce high levels of carbon monoxide very quickly, which can be deadly.
- Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help prevent electrocutions and electrical shock injuries.
Coping with a Power Outage
- Activate contingency plans for patients with a medical necessity for electric power.
- Limit freezer and refrigerator door openings to prevent food spoilage. Food will keep longer if doors remain closed. Check items for spoilage before serving. Don’t cook inside with charcoal.
- Keep door openings to a minimum and use blankets, sleeping bags and extra clothes to help stay warm. Dress in layers and wear a hat. Cover drafty windows and doors with blankets.
- Turn off large appliances that come on automatically. Make sure appliances you were using when the outage occurred are turned off. Disconnect sensitive electronics to avoid damage from surges.
- When the power comes back on, give the electric system a chance to stabilize by gradually using the appliances you turned off. Use only the most essential first and wait 10 to 15 minutes on the others, including water heating and space heating.
- If you clear trees on your property, don’t remove those tangled in power lines. Stay away from any downed lines and notify us or call 911 immediately.
- Watch out for us. Our employees frequently work along roadsides. Please remember to slow down and be aware of utility crews. Stay away from Walton EMC work areas. Besides being in a hazardous area, you’ll slow our crew’s progress.
The work needed to quickly restore service after a large power outage begins long before it ever occurs.
How Walton EMC prepares for an outage:
- Most outages occur when trees fall on power lines due to high winds or frozen precipitation accumulating on the branches. By having right-of-way contractors keep trees and other growth trimmed away from power lines, Walton EMC workers gain easier access to problem areas.
- A computerized outage reporting system can handle thousands of calls an hour.
- All substations and their outgoing circuits are remotely monitored by computer. The system automatically alerts us to problems or failures anywhere on the system.
- Walton EMC employees from other departments are cross-trained to help with outages. Additionally, the EMCs of Georgia have agreements in place for mutual aid in times of crisis.
- Our dispatchers constantly keep an eye on weather radar and current forecasts in order to have crews standing by for fast response.
How Walton EMC restores power:
- We prioritize by making repairs that will restore power to the most consumers at one time.
- Transmission lines bring power to our system from generating plants. Walton EMC does not maintain transmission lines.
- Substations interface transmission lines to Walton EMC's main circuits (trunk lines), and must be functioning before any other part of our system can carry power. Thus, substations are Walton EMC's first priority in restoring power.
- Main circuits (trunk lines) leave the substation and carry electric power throughout our service territory. Main circuits serve as the backbone of our system. Taps and service wires leave main circuits to carry power to relatively "small" groups of consumers. There are very few wires that are considered main circuits. Just because a line runs next to a major highway or through a subdivision doesn't mean it's a main circuit.
- After the substations are functioning, we focus first on main circuits. It would be futile to make repairs to other parts of the electric system if the main circuit feeding it was out.
- Taps feed off of main circuits and carry electricity out to smaller numbers (an entire subdivision may be a "small" number when compared to a main circuit) of consumers. Repairs on taps begin after main circuits are up and functioning.
- Service wires may attach to main circuits or taps and supply power to only one or two locations. Repairs to service wires come last.