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Power Outages — Be Prepared

Cooperative customers should be prepared during the winter months for extended outages. Every year the TV stations and newspapers will carry stories of extreme ice storms which have hit various areas of our country. The results are that many of the consumers are out of power for many days. The Cooperative would suggest to its consumers that they should be prepared for outages, since the Cooperative cannot guarantee continuous service.

StormSome of the suggested ways to be prepared are as follows:

  1. Have a backup heating source such as a wood stove, fireplace or portable heater. This would keep you warm and keep the water pipes from freezing.
  2. Standby generators are used by some consumers during lengthy power outages. Be sure they are isolated from the Cooperative's lines when in use so they do not back feed onto the Cooperative system and injure someone.
  3. If you have someone in your home with medical equipment, have a plan to move them to a safe place if the power is off for an extended period of time.
  4. Keep an adequate supply of nonperishable food and water on hand.

Remember, during an extreme outage a number of individuals will be needing assistance at the same time. It is good to plan ahead.

Is your stand-by generator safe for our linemen?

For most of us, a backup generator can be a nice thing to have in case the power goes off. For those people who are on life-support equipment or whose business depends on a fail-safe supply of electricity, a backup generator is essential.

No utility can guarantee there will never be outages. Car accidents, wildlife, storms and equipment failure can lead to outages despite our bests efforts. If you are dependent on electricity, consider whether a generator is a good idea.

If you decide it is, whether for convenience or necessity, it's important that you look into National Electrical Code requirements for connecting generators to your house wiring.

On a permanent installation, a double-throw switch must be installed to isolate your home's electrical system from your electric co-op's wiring. Just turning off the breakers on your panel does not meet the code's requirements.

What the switch does is to switch the supplier of electricity from your co-op's lines to the generators. This is important.

If the generator comes on and the line is connected to the co-op's supply lines, voltage going out will be stepped up from 120 volts to 14,400 volts by your house transformer. This puts the line crew working to restore power at great risk.

Your co-op linemen will usually de-engergize a line or section of line before working on it. If your generator feeds back into this line they thought was safe, they could easily be killed or seriously injured — and you would be liable.

It would be best to plug lights, appliances, water pumps, furnaces and water heaters directly into the generator rather than trying to connect the generator to the house wiring. But first make sure the generator is rated to meet these loads. Mostly likely, you will have to alternate between appliances.

Also beware of Army surplus generators or ones from foreign countries. These may not provide the voltage or cycle of U.S. residential power. Most generators will have a nameplate attached to it with the specifications.

If you are in doubt, contact a licensed electrician or your electric cooperative. You just might save someone's life.

When a major storm causes a power outage, Ozark Border works diligently to restore service. Learn how we typically go about the task of restoring electric power.

 

Ozark Border Electric Cooperative
PO Box 400 • Poplar Bluff, MO 63902
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