DES MOINES — With the arrival of winter, comes the chance for heavy snow, ice and high winds – the leading causes of power outages. MidAmerican Energy is offering 10 tips to help customers prepare and stay safe when the power goes out.
Before an outage:
1. Assemble an emergency safety kit. Items the kit should include are a flashlight, extra batteries, a three-day supply of water and nonperishable food for everyone in your household, medications, a manual can opener, blankets and warm sweaters, a battery-operated or wind-up radio and clock, a first aid kit, extra cash in case ATMs are down, and important phone numbers. Store the safety kit in a place that is easy to find in the dark and make sure everyone in your family knows where it is kept.
2. Purchase a battery-powered phone charger. Keep a battery-powered cellphone charger in your emergency kit, so you can charge your phone in the case of an outage. A vehicle phone charger will also allow you to tap into your vehicle’s battery source to charge your phone.
3. Keep your gas tank at least half full. Gas stations rely on electricity to operate their pumps and may not have back-up power.
4. Clear snow and ice from natural gas meters. Clearing snow and ice from natural gas meters can help keep your gas supply uninterrupted and operating safely during a storm. Gently use a broom rather than a shovel to remove snow from your meter, and carefully remove icicles from your roof or gutter above the meter. Water that drips on meters can freeze and cover it in ice. If a meter becomes encased in ice, do not try to melt or chip the ice. Call MidAmerican Energy at 888-427-5632 for assistance.
5. Designate a place to go in case of an extended outage. Talk to family, friends and neighbors and establish a place to stay during an extended outage. If you have nowhere to go, head to a designated public shelter. Also, check on elderly neighbors, friends or relatives who may need assistance.
During an outage:
6. Report your outage. Don’t rely on neighbors to report your outage. Report your outage online or call MidAmerican Energy at 800-799-4443. Reporting your outage helps crews to pinpoint the issue and restore power faster.
7. Stay in the know. Monitor the outage restoration process by listening to radio reports, viewing MidAmerican Energy’s outage map or by following updates on the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages. You can also sign up to receive text notifications during an outage through the My Account feature on MidAmerican Energy’s website.
8. Avoid opening the refrigerator and freezer. An unopened refrigerator will keep foods cold for about four hours. A full freezer will hold the temperature of frozen foods for 24 to 48 hours – the fuller the freezer, the longer items inside will stay frozen.
9. Unplug sensitive appliances such as computers, TVs and DVD players to avoid possible damage when electricity is restored.
10. Stay away from downed power lines. If you see a downed line during a storm, assume it is energized and stay far away. Touching an energized power line can be fatal. Call MidAmerican Energy immediately at 800-799-4443 to report the downed line.
For more outage safety tips, visit the Outage and Storms page on MidAmerican Energy’s website.