HUGHESVILLE, Md.—As Hurricane Sandy continues on its path toward landfall, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) has assembled, pre-storm, the largest group of linemen and service restoration personnel in our 75-year history. We have 175 SMECO linemen, 144 Contract linemen, 60 Cooperative linemen from Georgia, 32 Cooperative linemen from North Carolina, and 122 tree workers for a total of 533 field workers ready for outage restoration deployment. We have additional employees in our Contact Center to aid our full staff of customer service representatives to handle outage calls.
"We are assembling a historic workforce to respond to what we are anticipating will be a historic storm," said Austin J. Slater, Jr., SMECO president and CEO. "We are expecting significant damage to our system, and we urge our customer-members to take the necessary precautions to prepare for an extensive, prolonged outage restoration period."
Slater noted that SMECO has been preparing for the storm for several days by remaining in contact with electric cooperatives from other states and securing additional resources from our contractors. He added that SMECO has a well-stocked inventory of the hardware and equipment needed for making repairs, and our vendors are prepared to send additional equipment if necessary.
Customers can view a two-minute video, "Preparing for a Power Outage" to help them take steps to get ready before an outage occurs. Customers can get more information or watch the video on the co-op's website at www.smeco.coop. SMECO's October bills also included a brochure listing steps to take to prepare for power outages.
SMECO customers should report power outages by calling the automated system at 1-877-747-6326 (1-877-74-SMECO). 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.
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. For shelter updates, call SMECO's special needs information number: 1-866-524-9402. In addition, check with 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 canned fruit, peanut butter, crackers, cereals, cereal bars, canned soup, tuna, 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 corded 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 an attic, crawl space, or basement. Carbon monoxide poisoning is deadly. 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:
-- Never touch downed power lines or attempt to remove trees from power lines. Contact with live 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.
-- Call SMECO's Outage Hotline at 1-877-74-SMECO or 1-877-747-6326.
-- Open the freezer and refrigerator as little as possible. This will help food stay fresh longer.
-- Make sure the oven and stove are off to prevent fires if the power comes back on while you're away.
-- 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.
Note: The official somd.com Sandy thread with the latest government and utility notices and bulletins can be found at http://forums.somd.com/life-southern-maryland/258476-official-hurricane-sandy-thread.html