Storm Recovery Continues: Safety Urged
February 23, 2009
AUGUSTA, MAINE -- As the winter storm that affected Maine moves away, many Mainers remain without power or are dealing with the heavy wet snow that choked driveways and walkways. The Maine Emergency Management Agency urges everyone to exercise caution as the “dig out” continues, and also to think of family, neighbors and friends who may need extra help.
Power Outage Safety:
- Avoid any downed power lines. Utilities warn that any downed line could be live and dangerous.
- If the power goes out, use generators and alternate heat sources safely. Never run a generator in a basement or attached garage. Carbon monoxide poisoning may result.
- Place generators outdoors in a well ventilated location · Generators should be placed well away from home windows or doors · Generators should not be placed in an enclosed or semi-enclosed space (such as basement, cellar bulkhead, attached garage) where carbon monoxide can build up to dangerous levels.
- Generator must be properly grounded.
- After losing power, turn off main breaker or pull main fuse block.
- Portable generators are meant to be connection to the items you wish to power NOT directly to your household wiring. Use properly sized, outdoor-rated cords to power chosen end uses such as a stove, refrigerator, furnace, water pump, or lamps.
- Generators that are directly connected to existing wiring systems must use double-pole, double-throw (DPDT) transfer switch to prevent backfeed.
- NOTE: A directly connected generator can 'backfeed' onto the power lines connected to your home. Utility transformers can then step-up or magnify this backfeed to thousands of volts—enough to kill a utility lineworker making outage repairs a long way from your house. You could also cause expensive damage to utility equipment and your generator.
- If you see a utility repair crew working nearby during a power outage, alert them to the fact that you are running a generator. They can double-check for everyone's safety, and may be able to advise you when you'll be able to switch your generator off and resume using the power grid.
- Use kerosene heaters in a well ventilated room. Follow all manufacturer’s operating and ventilation instructions.
- Do not use outdoor cooking devices indoors (such as gas or charcoal grills, gas camp stoves).
- Do not use indoor gas cooking stoves for heat.
- If you use a wood stove, move all combustible materials away from the stove. Monitor the fire closely.
Snow Clearance Tips:
- Pace yourself while shoveling snow; don’t overtax yourself especially if you have an existing health condition that puts you at greater risk.
- Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
- Keep roofs clear of snow. The heavy wet snow will stress roof structures. Snow on the roof can also cause ice dams, permanent roof damage and leaks.
- Make sure heating system vents are clear of snow, to prevent carbon monoxide from backing up in the home.
- Protect outside oil tanks from snow and ice falling from the roof. Serious oil spills can result.
- Roads may refreeze as temperatures drop; motorists should continue to use caution.
- High snow drifts will make it difficult to see pedestrians and other. Take care when pulling out into roadways and advancing through intersections.
Phone Numbers and Web Sites:
- Immediate emergency assistance: Dial 911
- Power reports and questions: Your electrical utility
- Road conditions: Dial 511 or visit http://www.511maine.gov
- Shelter information: Dial 211 or visit http://www.211maine.org
- Oil spills from damaged oil tanks: Dial 800-482-0777 to notify DEP