SMECO Reminds Customers to Prepare for Weather-Related Outages

September 30, 2015

SMECOSouthern Maryland faces potential heavy rains and high winds this weekend.

Area residents are urged to take steps to prepare for possible weather-related power outages. Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) is monitoring weather forecasts, and co-op crews are prepared to restore power if outages occur.

According to SMECO spokesperson Tom Dennison, “As always, SMECO personnel are monitoring the weather forecast and preparing to respond to any outages that may result from falling trees and flooding.” Dennison added, “If customers experience a power outage, they have a number of easy ways to report it. They can call 1-877-74-SMECO (1-877-747-6326), go online to our website, www.smeco.coop, or use SMECO’s text messaging service. We also have a SMECO 24/7 free mobile app available that will allow customers to report an outage, view our outage map, or make a payment. We encourage customers to download the app or register for the texting service before bad weather hits.” Customer-members can get more information about the app and text messaging service on SMECO’s website at smeco.coop/SMECO247.

SMECO’s outage restoration policy is to make repairs that will restore service to the most people in the least amount of time. Transmission lines and substations are repaired first, followed by distribution lines that feed neighborhoods. Tap lines and individual service lines are then repaired to restore power to customers who may still be without electricity.

Customers can view a two-minute video, “Preparing for a Power Outage” to help them take steps to get ready in case an outage occurs.  Customers can access the video on the co-op’s website at smeco.coop/safety/outages/hurricane-readiness.

The following is a list of steps customers can take to prepare for power interruptions.

  • If someone in your household depends on electricity to operate life support systems, make plans for alternate sources of power or alternate lodging. For county shelter information, call SMECO’s special needs number: 1-866-524-9402. In addition, check with your local fire department, which may offer temporary shelter.
  • If you plan to use a portable generator, use extension cords to connect what you want to power directly to the generator. Place your generator outside, not in an attic, crawl space, or basement. Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly. Make sure your generator is connected safely; a generator that is not connected safely can cause serious injury or death. When your power comes back on, turn off and disconnect your generator immediately.
  • Keep flashlights and fresh batteries on hand. Lanterns and candles are not recommended because they can cause fires.
  • Stock nonperishable foods and keep a manual can opener handy. The ideal choices are foods that require no cooking, such as fruit, canned tuna, peanut butter, crackers, cereals, cereal bars, canned soup, and bread.
  • Do not stock your refrigerator or freezer with foods that may perish during a power outage.
  • If you plan to use a charcoal or gas grill for cooking, keep the grill outdoors.
  • If your water at home is supplied by a well, store extra water in clean jugs, bathtubs, or laundry tubs.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries and stay tuned to local news bulletins and weather reports.
  • Make sure that you have a standard phone available. Cordless phones do not work without electricity. If you use a cell phone, an auto adapter may be needed to recharge your phone.
  • Keep your automobile gas tank above half full.
  • Keep fresh batteries in your smoke detectors.
  • As in preparing for any other emergency, maintain a supply of cash. Credit cards and ATM machines may not work if the power is out.

If your power goes out:

  • Call SMECO’s Outage Hotline at 1-877-74-SMECO or 1-877-747-6326. Customers may also download the SMECO 24/7 app, use SMECO’s text messaging service, or go to the co-op’s website to report the outage online at coop/account/report-an-outage.
  • Never touch downed power lines or attempt to remove trees from power lines. Contact with live lines may result in serious injury or death. Let qualified SMECO crews handle the clearing and repair work. Please report downed power lines to SMECO immediately by calling 1-888-440-3311.
  • Open the freezer and refrigerator as little as possible. This will help food stay fresh longer.
  • Make sure the oven and stove are off to prevent fires if the power comes back on while you’re away.
  • Turn off all the major appliances in your home, especially the heat pump. This will prevent damage to the appliances once the power is restored. Then, try not to turn everything back on at once; turn on appliances gradually so the electric demand does not jump suddenly.