Winter is Showing No Mercy: Tips to Stay Safe, Warm
When winter’s wrath brings wind, rain, snow and ice, the threat of power outages increases.
Although the extreme cold can pose dangers to life and property, you can minimize the risk by familiarizing yourself with important winter safety information and preparing for outages before the occur.
- Heating appliances such as space heaters and electric blankets should never be left unattended or used while sleeping.
- Never use a gas stove, charcoal grill or lantern intended for outdoor use inside your home as it could lead to a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide gas.
- Only use space heaters designed for indoor use, and keep all heat sources at least three feet away from curtains, carpet or furniture that could catch on fire.
- When operating a portable generator, place it outside of your home and far away from windows, doors and vents. Never use a generator inside your home!
- Keep electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablet computers fully charged to be ready for an emergency.
- Have a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy in the event a power outage occurs.
- Never fold an electric blanket while using it. This can damage wires inside of the blanket, causing it to overheat or spark.
A frigid winter can also increase a home’s energy bill for those who use electric heat sources like space heaters, heat pumps and electric strip furnaces. However, there are several steps you can take to better manage energy bills that may climb as the cold weather lingers.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated to help reduce heat loss. Inspect doors and windows and apply caulk or weather stripping where necessary to keep cold air out. Close drapes, blinds and garage doors to retain heat.
- Keep your thermostat at a temperature where you feel comfortable. Each degree lower has the potential to save about 2 percent on your heating bill. Install a programmable thermostat and it will do the work for you.
- Schedule an annual furnace inspection and tune-up by a qualified and experienced HVAC professional.
- Clean or replace the furnace filter to improve efficiency.
- Keep furniture and drapes from blocking heat registers and return vents to ensure heat can get into the room.
- Close the vents in rooms that are not being used.
- Avoid frozen pipes by opening faucets and maintaining a constant drip, or wrap pipes in insulation or layers of newspapers.
In advance of the winter season, FirstEnergy’s 10 electric companies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia completed maintenance work and inspections to help prepare its infrastructure for cold-weather operations and reduce the risk of potential service disruptions.
If winter weather does cause an outage, do not rely on your neighbors to report it to us:
- Always report your outage to 888-LIGHTSS (888-544-4877) or click the “Report Outage” link on www.firstenergycorp.com.
- STAY CLEAR of downed power lines; always assume they are live and dangerous. Report them to us immediately at 888-544-4877 or 911.
- Sign up to receive our text and email alerts to stay informed ahead of major storms and throughout the restoration process: www.firstenergycorp.com/connect