EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is reminding residents and businesses across the Commonwealth to brace for powerful summer storms that may include the risk of high winds, heavy rain, and hail and offering steps to take so residents can prepare for and recover safely from storm-related power outages.

The PUC says during severe thunderstorms heavy rain and high winds can bring down trees, branches, and wires, disrupting utility service. Time spent planning and preparing before a storm can go a long way toward keeping you and your family safe when severe weather hits.

Additionally, the PUC cautions everyone to give utility crews ample room to perform their repair work for your protection as well as theirs and to use extra care when traveling, make sure to slow down in work areas and watch for utility crews working along streets and roads.

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

The PUC encourages everyone to consider the following Storm Preparation Tips:

  • Know Your Utility Company Phone numbers: Write down, print, or save toll-free outage hotlines for your electric utility company and/or your natural gas utility company, which are listed on your monthly bills and posted on the PUC website.
  • Save Utility Company’s Website Address: Your utility`s outage reporting system can provide updates on repair and restoration efforts. Bookmark these electric utility outage sites and natural gas company websites.
  • Keep Your Cell Phone Charged: A well-charged phone will keep you in contact with your utility provider, other emergency services, and family members during any power outage.
  • Be sure to Secure Supplies: Keep necessary food, medicine, and other supplies on-hand including flashlight batteries.

Power Outage Tips:

  • If you experience a power outage, the PUC reminds you to keep the following points in mind:
  • Call Your Utility Hotline to Report Outages – Do not assume that the utility company already knows about your outage or that others have already called.
  • Keep Clear of Wires – Do not touch or approach any fallen lines. Stay Away from objects or puddles in contact with downed power lines. Also, do not try to remove trees or limbs from power lines.
  • Pre-Charge Cell Phones: Keep a portable cell phone charger on hand. Plan to use a corded phone, cordless phones will not work without electricity.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 to report power outages, report those to your utility provider. Calling 9-1-1 to report non-emergency issues like service outages can take resources away from other emergencies.
  • Residents should only call 911 If they see a downed power line.

Staying Safe While Waiting for Power to be Restored:

  • Use Flashlights or Battery-Operated Lanterns for emergency lighting. Do not use candles or other potential fire hazards.
  • Turn Off Lights and Electrical Appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer. When power comes back on, it may come back with momentary “surges” or “spikes” that can damage equipment.
  • Leave One Light On – After you turn the lights off, turn one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
  • Use Generators Safely – If you use a generator, do not run it inside a building or garage or anywhere close to a window or vent. Also, connect the equipment you want to operate directly to the outlets on the generator, not the electrical system for your home or business, which could shock or injure utility crews working on nearby power lines. Additional generator tips are available here.
  • Check on Elderly Neighbors and those with special needs who might need additional assistance.

Natural Gas Safety Tips:

  • Check Gas Appliances: Electric power outages can impact appliances that operate on natural gas. When the power is restored, if the appliances that run on natural gas aren’t working properly, call a professional for help.
  • Evacuate at the first smell of gas: If you smell natural gas: Get everyone out of the building immediately and leave the door open. Do not use phones; do not switch lights or appliances on or off; and do not take any other action while inside the building. Call 911 from a distance once you are safely outside from a cell phone, or a closeby home or business.

During storm emergencies, the PUC continuously monitors utility issues and works closely with the Governor’s Office and the other state agencies involved in Pennsylvania’s coordinated storm response.

Visit the PUC`s website for recent news releases and extensive behind-the-scenes work when storms are forecast, focused on quickly addressing problems and restoring service as rapidly as possible.