Staying Safe and Warm in a Winter Power Outage
A cozy warm home in the freezing winter temperatures is not only inviting but can literally save your life. What would you do if your electricity and natural gas were to be suddenly disrupted in the dead of winter?
Avoid heat loss
The first and most important step to staying warm during a power outage can be summed up in one word: conservation. We don’t think much about it when the heating is working, but a blast of cold can quickly drop the temp 5 to 10 degrees with no easy way to get that heat back. Trap the heat in your home by doing the following:
Put the generator running
Some homes have standby generators that run on the home’s natural gas or propane supply and turn on automatically when the electricity goes out. The portable backup generators are instead gasoline-powered tools, and if you plan to use one, you should follow the following precautions:
Fire up the fireplace
This is one of the simplest ways to warm a room when there’s no electricity. Gas fireplaces that are equipped with a battery backup for the ignition will continue to work even if there’s no electricity. For wood-burning fireplaces, conserve wood by using the fireplace intermittently. Remember to keep flammable items away from the fireplace.
Use a portable heater with an open window
If you use a portable heater, make sure it’s indoor-safe as some can cause a deadly carbon monoxide buildup.
Learn the signs of, and basic treatments for, frostbite and hypothermia.
Stay Safe During Winter Weather
Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Only use generators and grills outdoors and away from windows. Never heat your home with a gas stovetop or oven.
Stay out of the home if necessary
Hunkering down at home isn’t always the best option. When it’s safe to drive, consider heading to a hotel to avoid a power outage. Before leaving, take the following measures to protect your home while you’re gone:
Power outages can be frustrating and stressful, but if you follow these helpful tips, you will hopefully stay warm and safe until everything is back to normal.
FAQs POWER OUTAGE
Are these outages due to the credit received last week?
No, the two are unrelated. Outages were at the request of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and will not impact the electric utility credit all City of Independence Utilities electrical customers received on Feb. 11. Other regional utility customers outside the IPL service are also impacted.
If your power hasn’t gone out yet, will it?
This is an evolving situation that changes from minute to minute as usage on the system fluctuates throughout the Southwest Power Pool’s 14 state area.
Will our pipes freeze if the power is out for this long?
No, pipes should not freeze in the 20-30-minute outage periods but please take these additional steps in the meantime to protect your home from this potential issue indep.us/frozenpipes
Are there any special groups that could call and have the ability to keep their electricity on?
Unfortunately, power is shut-off by circuit. We cannot isolate outages by address. If you have a medical condition that requires electrically supported equipment, please make sure to register with the City of Independence Critical Care Program. Find the application and more information here, indep.us/criticalcareprgm
What is Southwest Power Pool and why do they have authority to tell us to turn off electricity?
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) is a regional transmission organization (RTO): a nonprofit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members. You can learn more about them at spp.org
Are there maps we can look at or be notified prior to our lights being turned off?
No, maps are not available for the rolling outages but we will take every effort to notify the public when outages have been ordered via the City’s Facebook, Twitter, and Nextdoor pages.
Can we force non-essential business to shut down?
Outages will be rotated throughout the service area and at times will include big-box stores and restaurants. Every effort is taken to avert power loss to hospitals or medical facilities.
Is this happening because the City decommissioned the Blue Valley Power Plant?
No, this is not a local issue but a regional issue. The Blue Valley Power Plant provided power that went into the Southwest Power Pool. As an illustration, we provide a few buckets of water that help fill a well. This well is what all power providers in the Southwest Power Pool draw on. Sometimes, the well gets too low and we are asked to limit use or periodically stop drawing from the well. This is a last resort and avoided with back-up wells when possible.
Why can we not ‘buy’ more power?
Just stocked fridge/deep freeze, now this- will my food still be good?
Yes, food should not be impacted by a short 20-30-minute power outage but to help ensure the internal temps of the fridge/freezer remain constant limit times you open the door. Most manufactures state refrigerators and freezers can maintain temperature for 24 hours.
Will everyone have their lights off at some point?
Outages will be rotated through customers to limit impact as much as possible.
My power has been out longer than 30 minutes, what should I do?
Outages are an estimate, if your outage lasts longer than the 30 minutes estimated – please contact the outage report line at 325-7550.
Won’t outages make heating systems work harder when it is this cold?
The furnace may run longer to heat the space back up, but it does not run harder. By alternately shutting off sections of the system, it reduces the demand across the entire region.
Does this include stop lights?
Some stoplights may be impacted by rolling outages if they don’t have an uninterrupted power source. Please follow traffic guidelines.
This will result in prices being raised to cover the cost of the apparent ransomware attack?
No, a 6% rate reduction went into full effect in 2020. No rate increases are planned at this time and would require Council approval before being implemented.
Is the City calling customers to let them know what is going on for those that don’t do social media?
We are not only utilizing social media but also letting the traditional media (TV, Newspaper and Radio stations) know of these changes.
We’ve heard that outages have been cancelled for the day. When will we see more?
We cannot guarantee there will be no further outages as this event is expected to last through at least Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Is this at the fault of IPL or SPP? Why does SPP have the authority to tell the City what to do?
This event is due to the extreme cold the region is experiencing, not the fault of IPL or SPP. Providing sufficient fuel supply to electric generating resources has been a challenge.
How many times a day will my power go out? Is it a once and done?
Every effort is being undertaken to limit power outages and rotate them throughout customers as needed and requested by the Southwest Power Pool throughout this event.