Make sure you're prepared for outages amid severe winter weather

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — Severe winter weather is heading toward the Valley, and the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative is prepared.

Throughout the year, SVEC prepares for potential weather by clearing trees from near power lines. But when winter weather is in the forecast, everyone is prepared to deal with potential outages.

SVEC says they stay in touch with the National Weather Service and other agencies about upcoming weather. In the day before a storm, trucks are fueled up and equipment is checked to make sure everything is working, since workers could be called at any time once the storm starts.

SVEC says wet and heavy snow is often the issue for power outages, since it can weigh down trees and power lines. With the coming storm, WHSV's First Alert Storm Team is forecasting mostly drier snow because of the cold temperatures.

But the snow can also limit how quickly workers can respond to outages.

"Our crews will respond as quickly and safely as possible," Preston Knight, public relations representative, said. "Road conditions may not be the best for them to get to a certain scene, so bear with us and bear with them, it may take a little extra time."

They say people should still be prepared by having their cellphones charged and by having food and water on hand in case of an outage. SVEC also says you should report any outages at your home.

"Don't assume your neighbor has called in an outage," Knight said. "You may be on a different company all together, so don't assume that somebody else has called it in, make sure we're aware of your outage."

If you see a downed power line or debris on a power line, note the location and important information and then call SVEC immediately at 1-800-234-7832. Don't try to clear it yourself. To report an outage, you can call the same number, even if you think a neighbor may have reported the outage too.

The number to call if you have Dominion is 1-866-DOM-HELP. Both SVEC and Dominion also have a website on which outages can be reported if you still have a data connection once the power is out.

Also make sure you have a home outage kit stocked with the following supplies:

* Flashlights and extra batteries
* A battery operated radio
* Candles or lanterns and matches
* An alternate source of heat
* Canned or packaged foods, powdered milk and beverages, dry cereal
* Water (one gallon per person per day for drinking; fill bathtub and other containers for flushing toilets and other needs)
* Non-electric can opener
* Disposable plates and utensils
* Camp stove or other emergency cooking device
* Extra blankets or sleeping bags
* Fire extinguisher
* First aid kit
* If needed, extra baby food, formula, diapers

If you have a generator, be sure it is fueled, tested, and properly connected before the severe weather arrives. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and always operate outdoors with good ventilation.