DETROIT, Dec. 10, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Winter's arrival brings with it the possibility of severe weather. Detroit Edison continually prepares for the aftermath of winter storms that may hit Southeastern Michigan and urges its customers to do the same. Customers are reminded to keep safety as their top priority and to always stay away from any downed power lines that may result from winter storms.
When a power outage occurs, customers are encouraged to first check breaker panels or fuse boxes for tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. If the home's electrical system is intact, determine the extent of the outage by checking to see whether neighbors also have a problem.
Report power outages and downed power lines by contacting Detroit Edison at (800) 477-4747 or online at dteenergy.com from a location that has power. Don't assume the utility knows you are without power. Your report and those of your neighbors help the utility identify the scope of power outages and aid in electric service restoration efforts.
Detroit Edison offers the following suggestions for preparing for and coping with a winter power outage:
Remove dead or dying ash trees
Dead and dying ash trees are a widespread problem due to the emerald ash borer, an insect that has invaded ash trees in several states. As a result of this infestation, ash trees, which may grow to heights of 60 feet, have become structurally unstable and may fall at any time, especially during a storm.
Because Detroit Edison is seeing more and more incidents in which ash are falling and damaging power lines, the company is encouraging people to remove these trees from their property. Although there is an expense involved with the tree removal, the potential for injury or death and damage to homes, vehicles or property is far worse.
Steps to take before a storm
-- Assemble an emergency kit that is easily accessible. It should include a battery-powered radio or television, a flashlight and extra batteries, candles and matches or a lighter, a first-aid kit, a fire extinguisher, bottled water and non-perishable food. In addition, keep a corded or cell phone on hand because cordless telephones need electricity to operate.
-- Select a small, well-insulated room with a fireplace, wood stove or fuel-burning heater to use as emergency living quarters. Keep an emergency supply of fuel or wood handy. For safety, always store fuel in a dry place away from the house. In case of extended outages, blankets or cardboard can be hung over windows and doors to minimize heat loss.
--Visit DTE Energy's online Outage Center at dteenergy.com/outage to sign up for free e-mail alerts to know when a storm is coming.
After a storm
-- Stay at least 20 feet away from a downed power line and anything it contacts, especially metal fences. Treat every downed power line as if it is energized and keep children and pets out of the area.
-- Don't open refrigerators and freezers more often than absolutely necessary. A closed refrigerator will stay cold for 12 hours. Kept closed, a well-filled freezer will preserve food for two days. Partially thawed food or food that has ice crystals usually can be refrozen.
-- Open faucets slightly so they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
-- A fuel-burning heater – such as kerosene – requires an area with proper ventilation to prevent buildup of harmful fumes. Keep portable heaters away from furniture, draperies and other flammable materials.
-- Never use a gas range for heating or charcoal as an indoor heating or cooking source.
-- Turn off or unplug all major appliances to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored. Leave on one light to indicate when power is restored.
-- If using a portable generator, disconnect house circuits from Detroit Edison power lines. Pull or switch to "off" all main fuses or circuit breakers to protect line crews working to restore service. Always operate generators outdoors to avoid dangerous buildup of toxic fumes.
-- During low-voltage conditions – when lights are dim and television pictures are smaller – shut off motor-driven appliances such as refrigerators to prevent overheating and possible damage. Sensitive electronic devices also should be unplugged.
-- When clearing snow and ice from roofs and gutters, be sure to inspect the area for overhead power lines. Maintain a 20-foot clearance between the power lines and your ladder and tools. Contact with overhead lines can be deadly.
-- Customers may find information on safely operating portable generators and other storm and safety tips by visiting the utility's website at dteenergy.com.
Where to find restoration information
Storm updates and restoration information can be obtained by calling Detroit Edison's automated phone system at (800) 477-4747. If you have Internet access, restoral information is available at the company's online Outage Center at dteenergy.com/outage. Customers may also get restoration estimates by SmartPhone at mobile.dteenergy.com.
Detroit Edison is an investor-owned electric utility serving 2.2 million customers in Southeastern Michigan and a subsidiary of DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE), a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Information about DTE Energy is available at dteenergy.com.
SOURCE Detroit Edison