What to Do
You can lose electricity for many reasons. Lightning, high winds, ice and heavy snow or equipment failure can leave you without power for light, water, to run your refrigerator or to operate your home medical equipment. For the most part, electrical service is normally restored within a short period of time. However, major power outages can happen for extended periods of time.
When power is lost, you should:
- Check to see if your neighbors have power. The outage may affect only your home; a blown fuse or a tripped circuit may be the culprit. If your neighbors are also without service, call your local power company. Stay inside if possible, but if you must go outside to assess the situation, take a flashlight and watch for downed power lines that could still be energized. If downed lines are located, don’t go near them or touch anything that they may be in contact with. Report downed power lines immediately to WE Energies 24-hour number to report outages by calling 800-662-4797.
- Electric water heaters that are drained to prevent damage from freezing must also have their power shut off. If not shut off, when the power is restored the heating element may be damaged. Never turn on a water heater unless the tank is full.
- Gas appliances may not work if the power is off because the equipment may require electricity for ignition or valve operation.
- Medical equipment such as respirators, ventilators, oxygen equipment or other life-sustaining devices should be registered with the power company. Have a back-up generator if possible and a plan to relocate the person to a place that has electricity.
- Plumbing can freeze when power is lost during cold weather periods. Drain pumps, supply lines, water heaters, boilers and the traps in drains of tubs, sinks, commodes, washing machines and dishwashers.
- Refrigerators and freezers can keep food cold enough for a day or two, if the doors are kept closed. During the winter, you may be able to store some items outside in a proper container. If temperatures are below freezing, it’s possible to freeze water outside in containers and place them inside your refrigerator to help keep food cold. Try to eat perishable foods first. Some partially frozen foods can be refrozen as long as they contain ice crystals or are no warmer than 40° F. Buy a thermometer for both the refrigerator and freezer. Don’t refreeze seafood, poultry, ice cream, cream sauces or anything that can spoil. When in doubt, throw it out!
- Stay warm! Choose a single room where the entire family can live, ideally a room that gets sunlight during daylight hours. Use fireplaces and wood-burning stoves with care; make sure the fireplace is in proper working condition and has been inspected before use. Wear layers of clothing to trap warm air and hold body heat for longer periods. If your home is heated with natural gas, keep meters and vents clear of ice and snow. Never use gas ovens, stovetops or space heaters to heat homes and never use charcoal or propane grills inside the home due to the serious threat of fire or poisonous carbon monoxide gas.
- Trees downed in storms are a major cause of power outages. When trimming tree branches on your property, which are close to power lines, seek professional help.
- Turn off all major appliances. When major appliances (refrigerators, electric water heaters, air conditioners and pumps) are left on, they could overload electric lines when power is restored causing a second outage. Leave just a couple of light switches on in the home and the front porch light.
- Water systems with electric pumps will not operate when the power is out. You can use the water in your water heater or water in your pipes for drinking or sanitary purposes until power is restored.