With thunderstorms in spring and summer, hurricane season lasting through fall – and ice and snow in winter – storms are a year-round concern regarding electrical equipment and appliances, as well as service. We all know lightning can damage equipment, but what about other natural disasters spawned from storms? And what can you do to prevent or lessen damages to your property, and to protect your life?
- Storm Preparation
To lessen the risk that storms may pose, be prepared.
- YEC’s Storm Plan
Before a storm ever hits, York Electric Cooperative is planning how to prevent and correct resulting outages.
- Report an Outage
If you experience a power outage and have already checked your main breaker, please call!
- Media Info
York Electric’s media contact and storm preparedness information and Storm Plan.
Power Outage FAQ
Call 1-866-374-1234. York Electric encourages you to call our 24-hour ‘Power Touch’ outage reporting system so we can quickly locate where the problem is occurring and send crews out right away. Any detailed information you can supply about the outage is very beneficial in the trouble shooting process. Note: Before reporting the outage, YEC recommends that you first check your main breakers in your electrical panel.
Flood waters covered our food stored on shelves and in cabinets. What can I keep and what should I throw out? How should I clean my dishes and pots and pans?
Discard all food that came in contact with flood waters including canned goods. It is impossible to know if containers were damaged and the seal compromised. Discard wooden cutting boards, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples, and pacifiers. There is no way to safely clean them if they have come in contact with contaminated flood waters. Thoroughly wash metal pans, ceramic dishes, and utensils with hot soapy water and sanitize by boiling them in clean water or by immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water.
Drink only approved or chlorinated water. Consider all water from wells, cisterns, and other delivery systems in the disaster area unsafe until tested. Purchase bottled water, if necessary, until you are certain that your water supply is safe. Keep a 3-day supply of water or a minimum of 3 gallons of water per person.
Discard food that has been near a fire. Food exposed to fire can be damaged by the heat of the fire, smoke fumes, and chemicals used to fight the fire .
Food in cans or jars may appear to be okay, but the heat from a fire can activate food spoilage bacteria. If the heat is extreme, the cans or jars themselves can split or rupture, rendering the food unsafe.
One of the most dangerous elements of a fire is sometimes not the fire itself, but toxic fumes released from burning materials. Discard any raw food or food in permeable packaging—cardboard, plastic wrap, screw-topped jars, bottles, etc.—stored outside the refrigerator. Food stored in refrigerators or freezers can also become contaminated by fumes. The refrigerator seal isn’t airtight and fumes can get inside.
Chemicals used to fight the fire contain toxic materials and can contaminate food and cookware. Food that is exposed to chemicals should be thrown away—the chemicals cannot be washed off the food. This includes food stored at room temperature, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as food stored in permeable containers like cardboard and screw-topped jars and bottles. Cookware exposed to fire-fighting chemicals can be decontaminated by washing in soap and hot water. Then submerge for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per quart of water.
A snowstorm knocked down the power lines, can I put the food from the refrigerator and freezer out in the snow?
No, frozen food can thaw if it is exposed to the sun’s rays even when the temperature is very cold. Refrigerated food may become too warm and foodborne bacteria could grow. The outside temperature could vary hour by hour and the temperature outside will not protect refrigerated and frozen food. Additionally, perishable items could be exposed to unsanitary conditions or to animals. Animals may harbor bacteria or disease; never consume food that has come in contact with an animal.
Rather than putting the food outside, consider taking advantage of the cold temperatures by making ice. Fill buckets, empty milk cartons or cans with water and leave them outside to freeze. Then put the homemade ice in your refrigerator, freezer, or coolers.
Some of my food in the freezer started to thaw or had thawed when the power came back on. Is the food safe? How long will the food in the refrigerator be safe with the power off?
Never taste food to determine its safety! You will have to evaluate each item separately. If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, read the temperature when the power comes back on. If the appliance thermometer stored in the freezer reads 40 °F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine the safety. Remember you can’t rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below, it is safe to refreeze.
Refrigerated food should be safe as long as power is out no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and leftovers) that have been above 40 °F for 2 hours.
Yes, the food may be safely refrozen if the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below. You will have to evaluate each item separately. Be sure to discard any items in either the freezer or the refrigerator that have come into contact with raw meat juices. Partial thawing and refreezing may reduce the quality of some food, but the food will remain safe to eat. See the attached charts for specific recommendations.
Check for water saturation of your ceilings and light fittings inside and outside. If wet, call us immediately. If there is no obvious damage to your light fittings, turn off all but one light. Check the lighting circuit’s fuse or circuit breaker operation at your switchboard. Turn off your main switch and replace the fuse. Turn the main switch again. If the fuse blows, call YEC.
YEC uses an automatic phone answering system to handle power outage reports. If your correct phone number is on file with our office, your phone call can be handled more efficiently. Having the correct contact information also allows us to make any follow-up calls to you about electric service problems. If your phone number has changed since you signed up for your electric service, please contact our member services department at 803-684-4248.
This depends on the amount of damage sustained and current conditions. Field personnel must complete a damage assessment before any reliable estimate can be made.
Momentary outages occur when a disturbance on the line is detected. These disturbances could be caused by a lightning strike, a squirrel or tree branch contacting the line, or a downed line or outage in a nearby area, etc. If a fault or short circuit occurs on a power line, a device called a recloser opens to stop it and then quickly closes. This device allows power to continue flowing through the line with only a brief interruption of service rather than causing an extended power outage. Although the process is quick and usually temporary, it may cause your lights to blink. If the short circuit continues, the recloser will operate or ‘trip’ three times before eventually stopping the flow of electricity and causing a power outage. This process protects the lines from damage by cutting off power to the affected section of the line and isolating the problem until it can be repaired.
If you notice unusual periodic variations in the normal brightness of your lights, sometimes very bright, sometimes dull, call us. These are symptoms of a potentially hazardous situation. Turn off all your motors and appliances, and leave a minimum of lights on.
Some neighborhoods get electricity from several different circuits, so you may notice your lights are out, but your neighbors have power. In such cases, the problem could be originating from your house’s electric line, a particular tap line, a main feeder line, or at the substation. For us to determine where the problem originates, it is extremely important that you call 1-866-374-1234 and report the outage with your exact street address and correct phone number.
This may be an incidence of partial power. At this point, members should unplug large/major appliances such as refrigerators, ovens, air conditioners, etc., as this could cause a power fluctuation and result in another outage. Once lights are bright, indicating full power has been restored, it is safe to plug in major appliances.
Lights being dimmer than usual, hot plates slow to cook, and motors failing to start are all indicative that there might be a problem in the high voltage system. If you observe any of these in your home, turn appliances off and unplug them. Leave a minimum of lights on (such as a fluorescent) and call YEC.
During times of multiple power outages, YEC concentrates our initial restoration efforts in the areas and on the power lines that restore electricity to the greatest number of people in the shortest period of time. We place emphasis on vital community services, emergency services and public safety. Please be patient, and we will restore your electric service as soon as we possibly can.
Many people think that the loud noise they heard was the sound of a transformer exploding, due to lightning or other extreme conditions. This was probably not the case. The noise could have been a fuse blowing. YEC’s power lines use fuses in a similar manner to the way you use fuses in your home. These fuses protect parts of our distribution system when severe weather strikes. The noise can be substantial leading many people to think something has exploded. When reporting an outage, it is very helpful when you tell us you heard a loud noise because it helps us isolate the location of problems on our lines.
Some smoke alarms are powered by AC (alternating current) and use a battery backup. When these units lose power momentarily they may chirp several times to inform you they are on backup power or are returning to main power. For more information, review the manufacturer’s documentation on your type of alarm.
If you receive a tingling sensation from any electrical appliances turn off the electricity immediately. Do not make contact with or let anyone else near the suspected appliance and call YEC.
You should first refer to your disaster plan and call your home health nurse and physician. You should notify your family and/or friends and call EMS especially if your situation is life threatening. YEC reminds members who have extreme critical health needs that require a continuous power source during an outage, to make arrangements before the crisis to relocate to a place where those needs can be met. Another option is to make personal arrangements for a generator to hook up to machines that have to be kept running. Generators should never be hooked into a home or business’ electric circuit. Generators should only be connected directly to critical care machines or other appliances.
In a major storm, assume you may be without power for some time. Turn off electric appliances (like iron or stove) so you won’t create a safety hazard when the power is turned back on. Remember to include air-conditioning among appliances you turn off. Never report hazardous situations by e-mail. Always call the office at 1-866-374-1234 so we can respond immediately!