Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate
555 Walnut Street
5th Floor Forum Place
Harrisburg, PA 17101-1923

Phone: 717-783-5048 or toll free 800-684-6560
Fax: 717-783-7152


Consumer Tip for December 2011


Be Prepared and Plan Ahead For an Electric Service Outage


Recent storms have interrupted electric service to a large number of Pennsylvanians. The Office of Consumer Advocate offers the following tips to help you and your family stay safe in the event of an electric service outage.


What to do before an electric service outage


  • Have a first-aid kit with current supplies.

  • Have flashlights and extra batteries to use for light. Do not use candles for light, as a mishandled or unattended candle can cause a fire.

  • In cold weather, have plenty of warm clothes and extra blankets. Don’t use space heaters, except in well-ventilated areas, and then only under close supervision. Rely primarily on clothes and blankets to keep warm.

  • Have an emergency (3 day) supply of bottled water and of food that doesn’t require refrigeration or cooking.

  • Have a battery-powered radio and extra batteries available.

  • Have available a cell phone or a basic land-line phone that doesn’t need to plug into an electrical outlet.

  • Check medications that require refrigeration to see if they can be affected by a prolonged loss of refrigeration. If so, you may need to keep a small cooler handy.

  • Have surge suppressors for sensitive or important electric equipment.

  • Know how to manually open your garage door, in the event that electrical garage door openers have no electricity to drive them.


If a severe storm is imminent


  • Fill a bathtub and spare containers with water, in the event that well- supplied or publically-supplied water becomes unavailable.

  • Check with elderly family or friends to be sure that they are prepared for the weather and do not need special assistance.

  • Unplug especially sensitive electrical equipment, such as televisions, video recorder/playback devices, and computers.


What to do during an electric service outage


  • Check to see if you have a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. If you don’t have a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker, call your electric distribution company to report your outage.

  • Turn off your electric stove and oven, heat pump, air conditioners, furnace, clothes washer, and clothes dryer. Also unplug clothes irons, curling irons, hair dryers, and other heat-producing appliances.

  • Turn off or unplug sensitive electrical equipment such as televisions, video recorder/playback devices, and computers.

  • Leave an electric light turned on, so that you will know when electric power has been restored.

  • Keep all refrigerators and freezers closed.

  • Set an interior faucet to trickle in extremely cold weather to prevent pipes from freezing.




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