Weathering This Winter Storm Safely
Upper Cumberland Electric Membership Corporation takes pride in providing reliable power to all homes and businesses within our service area. Still, during this historic winter storm with predicted ice accumulation of three-quarters inch, widespread outages can occur that provide restoration challenges for our crews. The heavy ice and snow have caused trees and limbs to fall on lines, knocking energized lines to the ground. Bulldozers, diggers, saws, and bucket trucks must navigate through dozens of these large downed trees to get to damaged electrical equipment.
Should trees and limbs fall near your home, UCEMC reminds you to stay clear of downed power lines or equipment and never assume they are safe to approach. Call us to report. You should only call 911 if you have a life-threatening emergency.
Preparing for an outage:
- Develop an emergency plan and share it with your family. Be sure everyone knows what to expect and what to do. Have a plan in case power is out for a more extended period.
- Make a list of local emergency contact numbers (fire, police, ambulance, etc.). Include UCEMC’s number – 1-800-261-2940.
- Prepare an emergency kit and store it in an easy-to-find location. Check it regularly to make sure it is well stocked and that all equipment is in good working order.
- Include a battery-operated flashlight in your emergency kit to avoid using candles, as they can be fire hazards.
Your Emergency Kit:
Prepare for the first 72 hours. Stock your emergency kit with these essentials:
- Flashlights and batteries
- Battery operated radio and clock.
- Cell phone and external power bank
- Candles and waterproof matches or a lighter
- Blankets, coats, hats, and gloves
- Plastic garbage bags
- First aid kit
- Non-perishable food such as canned and dried goods
- Bottled water
- Manual can opener
- Prescription drugs, contact lens solution.
- Extra cash
- Spare car keys
- Sleeping bags
- Toilet paper, other personal toiletries
- A loud whistle in case you need to attract attention
What should I know about portable and standby generators?
We are all very dependent on electricity. In some circumstances, it makes sense to consider a portable or standby generator. Before buying a generator, it's important to do some homework to do it right and stay safe.
- Standby generators are not intended to meet all of the electrical needs of a home or business. Do not connect them directly into your home wiring system without taking safety precautions.
- Proper installation and regular inspection are necessary to ensure the generator is safe for you and our linemen, who might need to work on your lines during an outage.
- Do your homework before you buy one. It's important to understand your electricity needs to accept the right-sized unit with the right voltage.
- Make sure that you buy all that you need, including an approved transfer device or switch.
- Hire a licensed electrical contractor to install the unit. Be sure a certified inspector inspects the installation.
What do I do if the power goes out?
First, make sure that your whole house is out of power. You may have a blown a fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. Be sure to check your service panel. Check to see if nearby streetlights our neighbors are out of power. If your power is out, call UCEMC at 1-800-261-2940 to report the outage immediately.
During a widespread outage, lines will be busy. Please be patient.
How quickly do UCEMC crews respond?
Every outage is treated as an emergency. No matter the extent of the damage, our crews start working right away to get power back on.
What can I do during a power outage?
First, find out if the outage is just in your home or in the entire neighborhood.
If it's just your home:
- Turn off or disconnect all major appliances.
- Check the circuit breakers or fuse box.
- If the breakers have tripped off or fuses have blown, you may have overloaded the circuit. Reset the breaker or replace the fuse.
- If it trips off again, you will need to find the problem. If you are not sure what to do, call a qualified electrician for help.
If the power is out in the neighborhood:
- Switch off and unplug larger appliances. This could prevent injury, fire, or damage should a sudden power surge happen when the power comes back on.
- Leave one light switch on so you know when the power is restored.
- Keep a battery-powered radio handy to get updates on what is happening.
- Keep your fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Most food will keep from 24 to 48 hours.
- Never touch downed wires or low hanging wires. Telephone or cable television wires that touch a power line can be deadly. Stay at least 10 meters away from downed power lines, and in an emergency, call 911.
- Never try to make your own electrical repairs to Upper Cumberland EMC’s equipment. Let our dedicated and highly trained crews do the work.
- Never pull tree limbs off power lines.
- Never walk into areas where crews are at work. If you are driving near work crews, obey road signs and proceed cautiously.
- Never use water on electrical equipment or wires in your home. Use a dry chemical fire extinguisher. NEVER attempt to put out a power line fire should a line fall near your home. Call UCEMC immediately and stay far away from the area.
- Never use a portable generator indoors, including inside a garage or other enclosed or partially closed area, as it could cause Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning.
Can I use my barbeque or camping equipment inside during an outage?
Never use barbeques, propane, or kerosene heaters indoors. They are for outdoor use only. Portable stoves, lamps, and other camping equipment can be useful during an outage. However, to avoid any risk of fire or to your health, make sure fuels and equipment are stored in a garage or shed separate from your home.
What should I do if I encounter a downed power line?
Ice storms, high winds, or tree limbs can bring down power lines. Never assume that a wire is dead. Please call us at 1-800-261-2940 to tell us about the wires or report them to the police as soon as possible. If a power line falls on your car while you are in the car, stay inside until an emergency crew removes the line. If you have to get out, jump clear without touching the car and the ground at the same time. After jumping, keep your feet together and shuffle away until you are at least 10m away from the wire. Check out the video on our safety page at ucemc.com.
Why should I stay away from downed power lines?
You must never touch or go near a fallen wire, even if it is on the ground. Fallen wires may still be energized and could cause serious injury or even death. If you see a fallen line, stay far away and secure the area. Please notify us by calling 1-800-261-2940 or report downed wires to the police as soon as possible.
What should I do after a power outage?
Carefully check the food in your refrigerator and freezer. If the outage was for a longer time (24 - 48 hours), don't take any chances with spoiled food. Here is a helpful hint for when you plan to be away from home for few days. Place a bag of ice cubes in your freezer before you go out. If the ice cubes have melted and refrozen, the same thing has happened to your food. The freezer contents will be spoiled. Also, remember to reset your clocks, timers, and alarms.
How Do I make repairs to my home's electrical equipment?
If there is damage to your home's electrical system, UCEMC may not be able to reconnect your power until you make repairs. You may have to call a Licensed Electrical Contractor first.
UCEMC appreciates your patience during this winter storm that is wreaking havoc in our area. Please check ucemc.com and the official UCEMC Facebook page for updates as they are available to us from our crews out in the field. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please keep our crews in your thoughts and prayers as they work in these dangerous conditions.