As a storm approaches:
- Make preparations for extended power outages by stocking up on nonperishable food, medicine, baby supplies and pet food. Have a non-electric can opener on-hand.
- If your water supply is dependent on electricity, purchase bottled water or stock up on water in safe storage containers. The American Red Cross recommends one gallon of water per person per day.
- Check emergency equipment, such as flashlights, battery-operated radios, extension cords, and emergency generators, and buy extra batteries. Have a battery powered radio or weather radio to monitor weather and public safety broadcasts.
- Local residents needing community services can call the 211 Texas/United Way Helpline for referrals to the appropriate agency by dialing 2-1-1 or visiting the website address: www.211texas.org
- Keep extra cash on hand, since an electrical power outage may prevent you from withdrawing money from automatic teller machines or banks.
- Turn your refrigerator to its coldest settings. If the power goes out, this will keep food fresh longer. If you leave the refrigerator closed, most food will stay frozen or fresh for up to 12 hours.
- Turn off and unplug any unnecessary electrical equipment, especially sensitive electronics.
- Keep first aid kits and manuals handy.
- Fill your vehicle's gas tank.
- Place your critical documents, such as birth certificates, insurance documents and special pictures in a waterproof, safe box. Take numerous pictures of your residence and belongings. Keep a record of model and serial numbers of belongings.
- Bring loose, lightweight objects, such as lawn furniture, inside. Clear the area around your residence of any debris that may cause damage if becoming airborne in high winds.
- If you plan to lower your TV antenna, do so well before storm winds arrive. Look around to identify power lines and stay clear.
After a storm:
- Safety is our top priority. SBEC employees will begin power restoration efforts when and where conditions are safe and secure to do so. Likewise, you should consider returning home only when you know it is safe, after authorities have advised it, and drive only on roadways and bridges that have been declared passable. Stay tuned to your local radio station for emerging safety information.
- Be aware of and stay away from downed power lines and areas of debris. Energized power lines may not be visible among the rubble. Do Not attempt to clear limbs or trees entangled with power lines as hazards may exist. Report downed lines immediately to SBEC at (800) 364-3171 or call 911. If a power line falls on your vehicle while driving, continue to drive away from the line. Don't walk in flooded areas or standing water. Remember that wet tree limbs can conduct electricity.
- Be cautious when entering your home, and watch for snakes, insects and other animals that may have been driven to higher ground by floodwater.
- If your home is wet inside, open doors and windows to dry it out. Look for electrical system damage once power is restored. If you see sparks, broken or frayed wires, or if the smell of hot insulation is noticeable, turn off the electricity at either the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Call an electrician for advice when necessary. Don’t step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker.
- Stay alert for natural gas or propane leaks. If you smell natural gas or propane, or if you hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and leave the area immediately. Do not operate electrical switches. If possible, turn the outside main gas valve off and call the gas company from a neighbor’s house.
- Check for sewage and water line damage. If you have an aerobic septic system, the pumps will be inoperative during power outages. Avoid using the toilets and call a plumber if you suspect damage. If water supply pipes are damaged, avoid tap water and contact the water company or a plumber immediately.
- Examine all foods in the refrigerator and dispose of anything that has spoiled.
- Help your neighbor and don't be afraid to ask for help. Tend to the injured and call 9-1-1 for help when it's needed.
- Take numerous pictures of any damage to your house or possessions for insurance claims.
- If you use portable electric generators, do so only in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Never connect a generator directly to a building’s wiring without a licensed electrician disconnecting the house wiring from SBEC’s service. It can create a safety hazard for SBEC’s linemen working to restore power, and it may damage the generator or the house wiring.
Websites For More Information About Storm Safety
Texas AgriLIFE Extension Service’s Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN)
American Red Cross
National Weather Service