Department of Public Service

Utility Service Interruption - What You Should Do





To help ensure your health and safety in the event of a storm or other event that disrupts your utility service, you should take precautionary steps, both before and during an outage.

In addition, you can assist people with special needs who may be particularly vulnerable during utility outages by following the suggestions listed below.

Prepare For an Outage

  • Keep a battery operated radio and flashlight on hand, as well as a supply of batteries, candles, and matches.
  • Create a pantry of water, medications and non-perishable foods.
  • Have at least one telephone available in your house that does not require electricity to operate.
  • Have a list of emergency numbers readily available.
  • Keep your vehicle gas tank at least half full.
  • Plan to have an alternative cooking source, such as a camp stove or outdoor grill, and follow appropriate safety rules for its use outside the residence.
  • Have extra blankets, coasts, hats, and gloves on hand to keep warm.
  • Consider buying a generator and follow the rules for using it outside the residence.
  • Watch out for health problems. In particular, in winter months know the signs of hypothermia (shivering, drowsiness, mental and physical slowness), and how to treat it, (wrap the person in warm clothing, move the individual to a warm location and seek medical attention).
Be Careful During an Outage
  • Check on people with special needs.
  • Call your local emergency response number for help, if needed. The number in many areas is 911; look on the first page of your phone book for your area's emergency number.
  • Check to see if your neighbors have power.
  • Call your utility to notify it of the outage.
  • In cold weather, stay warm by dressing in layers and minimizing the time outdoors.
  • Be aware of cold stress symptoms (called hypothermia) and seek proper medical attention if the symptoms appear.
  • Stay Safe!
  • Never use a charcoal grill inside or use a gas stove for heat as they could give off harmful levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Place a generator outside for proper ventilation; turn off the main electric breaker before using the generator to prevent electricity from traveling to otherwise de-energized electrical lines outside your house and possibly injuring repair crews.
  • If your basement floods before you have a chance to shut off electric and natural gas service, do not enter the basement. Instead call your utility.
  • If you smell gas, call your local utility.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors shut to keep food from spoiling. If you use dry ice, handle it with gloves so it doesn't damage your skin.
  • To keep your water pipes from freezing, either drain them or turn on a faucet slightly to keep the water running. (Note: not recommended if you are on a well).
  • Turn off major appliances to prevent damage from a possible surge when the power comes back on.
  • Listen to local broadcasts for further information.
Consider People With Special Needs
  • If someone you know is elderly, dependent on life-sustaining or health related equipment (i.e. ventilators, respirators, oxygen concentrators, or enhancers), you should help plan to make sure their needs are met by taking the following actions:
  • Register them as a special needs customer with their utility so they will become a priority customer.
  • Notify others that could provide help: fire department, neighbors, nearby friends, or relatives.
  • Have a list of emergency numbers readily available.
  • Check on them during an outage.
  • Have a standby generator or an alternative source of power available. Be aware of the safety rules for its use.
For Additional Information
  • Your utilities are good sources of additional information such as:



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