SMECO Offers Advice for Outages During Coming Storm

HUGHESVILLE, Md. (Feb. 04, 2010) - As a major snow storm is predicted to blanket the mid-Atlantic states this weekend, area residents may want to take steps to prepare for the storm in case of weather-related power outages. Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) is monitoring weather forecasts, and co-op crews are prepared to restore power if outages occur. Line crews are preparing storm packs and readying their equipment, contract crews from other areas are remaining in southern Maryland to assist, and SMECO Call Center employees are scheduled to work in shifts to respond to customer calls.

SMECO's outage restoration policy is to make repairs that will restore service to the most people in the least amount of time. Transmission lines and substations are repaired first, followed by distribution lines that feed neighborhoods. Tap lines and individual service lines are then repaired to restore power to customers who may still be without electricity.

Customers can view a two-minute video, "Preparing for a Power Outage" to help them take steps to get ready in case an outage occurs. Customers can see the video on the co-op's website at .

The following is a list of steps customers can take to prepare for power interruptions:

-- If someone in your household depends on electricity to operate life support systems, make plans for alternate sources of power or alternate lodging. Call SMECO's special needs information number: 1-866-524-9402. In addition, check with your local fire department, which may offer temporary shelter.

-- Keep flashlights and fresh batteries on hand.

-- Stock nonperishable foods and keep a manual can opener handy. The ideal choices are foods that require no cooking, such as fruit, canned tuna, peanut butter, crackers, cereals, cereal bars, canned soup, and bread.

-- Do not stock your refrigerator or freezer with foods that may perish during a power outage.

-- If you plan to use a charcoal or gas grill for cooking, keep the grill outdoors.

-- If your water at home is supplied by a well, store extra water in clean jugs, bathtubs, or laundry tubs.

-- Keep a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries and stay tuned to local news bulletins and weather reports.

-- Keep fresh batteries in your smoke detectors.

-- Make sure that you have a standard phone available. Cordless phones do not work without electricity. If you use a cell phone, an auto adapter may be needed to recharge your phone.

-- If you plan to use a portable generator, use extension cords to connect what you want to power directly to the generator. Place your generator outside, not in a crawl space or in a basement. Make sure your generator is connected safely; a generator that is not connected safely can cause serious injury or death. When your power comes back on, turn off and disconnect your generator immediately.

-- Keep your automobile gas tank above half full.

-- As in preparing for any other emergency, maintain a supply of cash. Credit cards and ATM machines may not work if the power is out.

If your power goes out:

-- Call SMECO's Outage Hotline at 1-877-74-SMECO or 1-877-747-6326.

-- Turn off all the major appliances in your home, especially the heat pump. This will prevent damage to the appliances once the power is restored. Then, try not to turn everything back on at once; turn on appliances gradually so the electric demand does not jump suddenly.

-- Make sure the oven and stove are off to prevent fires if the power comes back on while you're away.

-- Open the freezer and refrigerator as little as possible. This will help food stay fresh longer.

-- Never touch downed power lines or attempt to remove trees from power lines. Contact with live power lines may result in serious injury or death. Let qualified SMECO crews handle the clearing and repair work. Please report downed power lines to SMECO immediately by calling 1-888-440-3311.

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