RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- September is National Preparedness Month and Dominion Virginia Power is calling on its customers to make plans for dealing with emergencies, such as the approaching Hurricane Earl, that can affect their homes, businesses, and communities.
"Having an emergency plan and preparedness kit ready is crucial to ensuring you and your family are able to weather any storm," said Rodney Blevins, vice president – Distribution Operations for Dominion Virginia Power. "Dominion's team constantly practices and refines its restoration response plan so we can engage quickly for our customers in an emergency. We encourage our customers to make preparations for their families as well, to keep them safe during a significant event."
Each September, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's "Ready Campaign" and Citizen Corps highlight the need to "Get a Kit, Make a Plan, and Be Informed." Tips on how to prepare for emergencies and suggestions for creating emergency plans and kits are available on FEMA's Web site at www.ready.gov.
"There is no such thing as being over-prepared when it comes to hurricanes and other natural disasters or weather-related emergencies," said Virginia's Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker. "This is a great time of year to remind our citizens, local governments, state agencies, and business partners that the best defense is a good offense when it comes to emergency preparedness."
FEMA suggests keeping one emergency preparedness kit at home and one in the car. The kits should be updated every six months and have adequate supplies to keep every member of the family – including pets – safe for three days.
For Dominion customers, the timing of the campaign could not be better. Sept. 15 marks the peak of hurricane season in the company's 30,000-square-mile service area. Dominion has been monitoring the progress of Earl, the first hurricane of the season to approach Virginia and North Carolina, for more than a week.
In-house meteorologists in Dominion's Weather Center monitor all approaching weather systems to enable the company to prepare for potential operational problems before inclement weather strikes. A video showing how Dominion prepares for severe storms and outage restoration is available online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S51-6cW7uCE.
The company asks its customers to pay attention to weather reports including those provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). If severe weather is expected, take these common-sense steps to prepare for possible outages:
Establish an online account with Dominion at www.dom.com so you can easily report your outage and obtain outage updates on-line without having to call in (keyword: reporting outages).
If you don't have computer access or prefer to report by phone, be sure to update your account with the phone number you plan to use when reporting your outage. This simple step will ensure immediate access of your account for faster reporting without having to speak to someone. Phone numbers can be updated on-line or by calling our special phone number update line - 1-800-222-0401.
Make sure you have a battery-operated radio, multiple flashlights, and a battery-operated clock and fan, along with extra batteries.
Have at least three gallons of fresh water per person on hand. This is especially important for those who rely on well water.
Have a good supply of canned and other non-refrigerated foods available.
If you have pets, make sure you have provided for them as well.
During the storm, if electricity is interrupted
Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.
Post a list of contents on your freezer door to minimize the number of times you open it.
Leave one lamp or light on so you will be able to recognize when power is restored.
Frozen food can last up to three days. It is safe to eat if it still has ice crystals at the center.
If using portable or camp-type stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting, ensure that the area is adequately ventilated.
After the storm
Listen to your local radio station on your car or battery-powered radio for regular news and weather updates. Don't rely on your neighbors to report your outage. Call Dominion at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357).
Stay away from fallen wires, flooded areas and debris. Treat all fallen wires and anything touching them as though they are energized.
Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
Do not connect portable generators directly to the electrical system of your home. Electricity could flow backward onto Dominion's power lines and endanger lives. Either have a qualified electrician perform the work or plug the proper-sized extension cords directly into the generator.
Exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide and can be deadly, so run your generator outside with proper ventilation. Store the fuel for your generator safely.
Visually inspect the area around your electricity meter. If you detect or suspect any damage, call us at 1-866-DOM-HELP.
Some useful links for the public and media during the summer storm season are:
Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 27,600 megawatts of generation. Dominion operates the nation's largest natural gas storage system and serves retail energy customers in 12 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's Web site at www.dom.com.