DETROIT, April 12, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Damaging spring storms that can disrupt electrical service to homes and businesses are a fact of life in Michigan. DTE Energy continually prepares for unavoidable storm outages to ensure service is restored as quickly as possible.
There are steps customers can take as well to make sure they're prepared for – and stay safe during – storm-related power outages. DTE Energy offers the following tips and suggestions:
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 DTE Energy is seeing more and more incidents in which ash trees 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.
What to do before a storm
Assemble an emergency kit that is easily accessible. It should include a battery-powered radio or television, a flashlight with extra batteries, candles with holders, matches, disposable plates and utensils, bottled water, non-perishable food and a can opener.
Customers who depend on electrically powered medical equipment should ask their physician about a battery back-up system. If a customer is elderly or has a medical condition that would be adversely impacted by a power outage, he or she should develop an emergency plan that allows for alternative accommodations with family or friends.
Keep a corded or cell phone on hand because cordless telephones need electricity to operate. Learn how to manually open automated garage doors.
Customers who depend on a well for drinking water should have extra bottled water on hand.
Sign up for Detroit Edison's free Storm Alert e-mail program. Subscribers receive e-mail notification when severe weather is on the way that could cause power outages. To subscribe, go to dteenergy.com/stormalert.
What to do during a storm
Stay at least 20 feet away from downed power lines and anything they may be touching, especially metal fences. Treat every downed power line as if it were energized. Keep children and pets out of the area.
Downed power lines should be reported immediately to Detroit Edison at (800) 477-4747 so the hazard can be assessed and marked off until repair crews arrive.
Customers should report power outages through Detroit Edison's automated system at (800) 477-4747 or online at dteenergy.com/storm from a location with power. They may also report outages by SmartPhone at mobile.dteenergy.com.
Don't assume the company knows your power is out. After a power outage is reported, Detroit Edison can assess the extent of the damage and dispatch crews to make the necessary repairs.
If you lose power, 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.
Never use a gas range for heating, or charcoal as an indoor heating or cooking source.
Turn off or unplug all appliances to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored. Leave on one light switch 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 possible damage. Sensitive electronic devices also should be unplugged.
Stay out of flooded or damp basements or other areas if water is in contact with outlets or any electrically-operated appliance. The water or moisture may serve as a conductor of electricity. This can cause serious or even fatal injury.
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, listening to local radio and television stations or visiting the utility's Web site at dteenergy.com/storm. Customers may also get restoration estimates by SmartPhone at mobile.dteenergy.com. In addition, DTE Energy also posts storm restoration information at twitter.com/DTE_Energy.
SOURCE DTE Energy