Contact: Beth Gianforcaro, 614-466-9491
Statement of Ohio Consumers' Counsel Bruce J. Weston
Resources and information available to Ohioans experiencing power outages
COLUMBUS, Ohio – June 30, 2012 – Hundreds of thousands of Ohioans unfortunately are without power after a severe storm yesterday. “Power outages resulting from severe storms can present continuing safety risks after the storm has passed and Ohioans should take extra precautions under these difficult circumstances,” said Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston. The OCC is offering important safety tips during this power outage.
Consumer tips for customers without electricity:
- Monitor your and others' health (especially for the elderly) in hot and humid weather;
- Any use of gas-powered generators should be in accordance with safety instructions and never inside a home or garage where there is the danger of poisonous exhaust;
- If you are running a generator, please disconnect it when repair crews are at work in your area, for their protection;
- Stay away from downed wires, which can be still connected to electricity, and report them immediately to the local electric company;
- Report any damage to wires, transformers or other utility equipment immediately to the utility;
- When repairs crews are at work restoring power or clearing downed power lines, please stay clear of the work area and equipment, for your and their protection;
- Leave one light switch on to know when power is restored. Turn off all major appliances and electronic equipment in the house. This will help protect them from surges when the power is restored. Also turn off or unplug all heat producing appliances such as curling irons and electric ovens, to reduce the risk of fire or injury;
- Identify (from a distance) trees that have broken branches that could fall or cracks that may lead to a falling tree;
- Use caution to avoid consuming spoiled food that needed refrigeration;
- Consider any options for housing and food storage alternatives if needed;
- In some cases, electric companies can give preference to prevent disconnection or establish a reconnection of utility service to individuals who rely on life support devices, such as respirators, ventilators or other medical equipment. There are important steps these customers should take to ensure that their power is restored as quickly as possible. It requires a medical confirmation and prior registration with the electric company. For more information, please visit OCC’s fact sheets:
Source: Summer Power Outages: Safety Tips and Customer Rights:
Source: Keep Utilities On with a Medical Certification Waiver: http://www.pickocc.org/publications/consumer_protection/Medical_Certifications.pdf
Consumer tips for operating a generator safely:
The following information is provided by the State of Ohio Emergency Operations Center:
- While a generator can provide an alternative source of power when the electricity goes out, it can also become a dangerous source of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. A single gas-powered generator can produce as much as 100 times more poisonous Carbon Monoxide gas than a car’s exhaust.
- Never use a generator inside your home, basement or garage.
- Operate generators outdoors as far away from your house as possible. The National Institute of Standards and Technology reports that even 15 feet away may still be dangerous because the CO fumes can enter the home through windows, doors or vents. Tests are still being conducted to find a safe operating distance.
- Never refuel a generator while it is running or hot.
- Install CO detectors inside the home near all the sleeping areas.
- Never use a charcoal grill or a barbecue grill indoors. Using a grill indoors will cause a build up of CO inside your home, cabin, or camper unless you use it inside a vented fireplace.
- Never burn charcoal indoors. Burning charcoal — red, gray, black, or white — gives off CO.
- Never use a portable gas camp stove indoors. Using a gas camp stove indoors can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.”
Additional Residential Utility Consumer Resources & Contacts:
The following resources are available for residential utility consumers impacted by the power outages.
American Electric Power:
Dayton Power & Light:
Duke Energy Ohio:
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio:
Residential utility consumers with an inquiry or complaint may contact the PUCO Consumer Call Center for assistance:
Food Safety Tips During an Outage:
Red Cross Shelters and Cooling Centers in Ohio:
- The American Red Cross is staffing an information hotline 614-251-1775 to help residents locate emergency shelters and cooling centers until 8 p.m. Saturday and again on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Ohio Emergency Management Agency:
- For those residents without power, please call your local 211 for information and where to turn if you need help. Call 911 in an emergency.
- Follow along on Twitter with #OHwx and #severeweather.
About the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel
The Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts. The state agency also educates consumers about electric, natural gas, telephone and water issues. For more information, please visit the OCC website at www.pickocc.org