SOUTHERN UTAH (ABC4) – Amid high winds and increased fire danger, power could be shut off in southern Utah this weekend.
Earlier this week, Rocky Mountain Power informed residents in Iron and Washington counties that power shutoffs were possible. It’s a proactive measure to mitigate wildfire risk amid hazardous fire weather conditions. That includes low humidity, dry vegetation, and sustained high winds, and elevated counts on key weather indexes.
Rocky Mountain Power says it is taking additional safety precautions by directing additional restoration personnel and resources to monitor weather impact on the system. In the event of a power outage, employees will inspect lines and facilities for safety before power is restored. This could result in longer outages.
The Utah Division of Emergency Management says Rocky Mountain Power could shutoff power in southern Utah this weekend, mostly in Iron and Washington counties, as high winds and fire danger remain in the forecast.
Customers will be notified before power shutoffs, but should be prepared in case this happens.
State officials offer the below tips on what you should do amid power shutoffs and outages:
- Have a preparedness kit for any type of an emergency. Include items like a flashlight, non-perishable foods, a manual can opener, bottled water, blankets, a battery-operated radio, a clock, and extra batteries.
- If you or someone you know has medical equipment requiring electricity, be sure to have a back-up system and a plan of action for an outage or emergency.
In a power outage
- Check fuses and circuit breakers – if the outage isn’t caused by something in your home or business, contact your electric service provider.
- Avoid opening refrigerators and freezers, they will keep food and perishables inside cold for a longer period of time if not opened. A full freezer should be able to keep food frozen and safe for about two days when kept closed.
- In cold weather, wear multiple layers of clothing. Blankets and towels around windows and doors can keep heat in.
- Don’t use kerosene or propane heaters inside without proper ventilation as they can create dangerous fumes. Don’t use charcoal in your home or garage.
- Protect pipes from freezing by wrapping them with insulation and leave faucets dripping.
- Turn on your porch light when power is back in service. This lets crews know the failure has been resolved.
Using a generator
- Make sure it is properly wired for your home or business, and don’t connect it directly to your main fuse box or circuit panel.
- Don’t plug it into an outlet.
- If provide temporary power to your home’s wiring system, the generator must be connected through an approved transfer switch isolating your house from the electric utility’s system. The switch must comply with the National Electric Code and local building codes. These include permits, inspection, and installation by a licensed electrician.
- To temporarily power an appliance, plug it directly into the generator.
- Use properly sized and grounded extension cords. Keep cords hidden so you don’t trip on them.
- Ventilate your portable generator. Gasoline-powered generators produce carbon monoxide and the fumes can be deadly.
- Make sure the total electric load on your generator won’t exceed the generator’s rating.
See a downed line?
- Stay far away from all downed power and utility lines. You should treat every wire as dangerous and energized, even if it isn’t sparking.
- Keep everyone, including pets, out of the area and immediately report the downed line to the local power company.
- Don’t touch a person or object touching a power line. Call 911 immediately if someone is in contact with a live power line or has been injured by electrical contact.
- Don’t drive over downed power lines.
- If a power line falls on your car and you’re inside it, stay inside until help arrives and safe conditions are ensured. You will likely avoid electrical shock as long as you stay inside the car. If you need to escape, leap from the open vehicle with both feet together and continue hopping away with both feet together. Do not touch the vehicle once you’ve made contact with the ground. Warn others to stay at least 30 feet away from the vehicle until power company officials arrive.
Stay safe inside
- Keep appliances away from water. Always make sure your hands are dry when using them.
- Make sure outlets near water sources have properly working Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) to shut off power in time to prevent serious injury. GFCIs should be used in bathrooms, garages, near kitchen sinks, and outdoors. If your outlet has red and black “test” and “reset” buttons, it has a GFCI.
- Repair or replace an appliance if the cord is frayed.
- Childproof outlets.
- Use extension cords wisely.
- Use three-pronged plugs only in three-pronged outlets. Never remove a prong from three-pronged plugs – the third prong grounds electricity and is there for safety.
Staying safe outside
- Pay attention to the location of all overhead power lines. Always keep yourself and anything you’re handling at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines.
- Make sure you “call before you dig” – call 211 to contact Blue Stakes of Utah or the underground utility locating service in your area.
- Use electric power tools only in dry weather.
- Never sit on, play on or dig near pad-mounted transformers (the green metal boxes most often found in neighborhoods and parks). Never pry them open. If you find one that has been unlocked or damaged, call Be Ready Utah immediately at 1-888-221-7070.
- In winter, remember to watch for power lines while cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Deep snowpacks can bring you within touching distance of some overhead lines.
Keeping children safe outdoors
- Never climb power poles, transmission towers, or substation fences. If a tree is near a power line, do not build forts or climb in it.
- Fly kites far away from power lines – if a kite does get caught in a power line, release the string at once.
Be sure to stay up to date with Utah’s Most Accurate Forecast from your Pinpoint Weather team at abc4.com/weather.