Vermont utilities are preparing for Hurricane Irene, and are advising customers of the potential for damaging high winds and heavy rain that could cause extensive damage and power outages Sunday.
Customers across the state could see widespread power outages beginning Sunday afternoon, though the exact track of the storm is still uncertain. While all utilities are diligently preparing for the storm, customers should prepare for the possibility of being without power for several days, possibly even more, should the storm take a track for the worse.
Utility forecasts for Hurricane Irene include the threat of very high winds and flooding, which could cause significant power outages and structural damage across the state.
Utility crews are on standby and are bringing in outside contract crews to ensure a strong response if the storm brings significant problems. Government officials are also coordinating efforts to assure the necessary resources are available.
Vermont utilities urged customers to be sure to have flashlights, batteries, food and water available in case they lose electrical service, and suggested that friends, family and neighbors check on elderly Vermonters who may need help. Candles are not recommended as light sources during a power outage due to fire risk.
The utilities offered the following advice:
Before outages occur, be sure you have a phone that is hard-wired and does not rely on electricity.
Fill a bathtub with water before you lose service so the water can be used to flush toilets when the power is out.
Treat any downed line as if it is live. Report the line to your local utility and fire department, stay at least 50 feet away from the line, and keep children and pets away as well.
If using a generator, read and follow the owner’s manual before starting it. Never operate a generator inside any structure or near a structure. Use a transfer switch to ensure electricity is not accidentally fed onto a line where line crews must work.
Keep freezers and refrigerators closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage.
If power goes out, turn off all electrical appliances except one light so you’ll know when service returns. Then, turn equipment back on slowly.
Never use grills inside garages, sheds or other buildings, as the fumes can be poisonous.