Winter Storm Indra swept across the United States this week, spreading snow and ice from the West to the Midwest and Northeast. According to CNN, this bitter cold weather may linger throughout the week, and “more than 74 million Americans are under wind chill advisories for what will be the ‘coldest air of the season’.”
With freezing air and strong winds, utility companies in these affected areas will have their work cut out for them. This is a good time to revisit your emergency preparedness plan for severe winter weather, and share those tips with customers. With water, gas, and electricity being key components in everyday life, the public relies heavily on utility companies to keep those lifelines intact.
Effective customer communication throughout storms such as Winter Storm Indra not only keeps your customers up to date and informed, but also instills confidence in your company. Consider sharing the helpful emergency preparedness tips below on what to do before, during, and after a dreaded power outage.
Winter Emergency Preparedness Tips
Before an Outage
It’s always important to have an emergency preparedness plan before a winter storm hits, so you are completely ready for what is coming. The following bullets are tips from Tufts Office of Emergency Management:
- Check flashlights to ensure they are working, and keep back up batteries.
- Have emergency heating equipment and fuel (gas fireplace, wood burning stove, or fireplace) to keep at least one room warm and livable.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. Consider weather-strips on doors and windows to keep the cold air out.
- Wrap pipes in insulation or layers and let faucets drip a little to prevent them from freezing.
- If your water supply could be affected, fill your bathtub and containers with water.
During an Outage
You’re ready, but now the outage is here. Focus on staying warm, and use the below emergency preparedness tips to do so:
- Dress in many layers rather than one heavy layer of clothing.
- Mittens are better than gloves.
- Wear a hat; most body heat is lost through the top of the head.
- Protect your lungs by covering your mouth with a scarf.
- Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia – if symptoms are detected, you must seek medical help.
- Snowdrifts can be used to keep food frozen, but be aware of wild animals.
- Unplug all sensitive electronic equipment including TVs, microwave, computer, etc. as there may be possible voltage irregularities when power is eventually restored.
- Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should always be used outdoors and at least 20 feet away from windows. Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home.
After an Outage
Caution your customers about what to do after power is back. You may have knowledge about unsafe areas, so continuous customer communication is extremely important. The public should do the following after a power outage:
- Be extremely cautious when inspecting damage – keep children and pets away from downed or hanging electrical wires
- Check in/ help neighbors
- Stay off the streets
- Do not touch anything power lines are touching
Before, During, & After an Outage
Uninterrupted communication with your customers is key before, during, and after a winter storm., It’s very important to remind your customers you will be in contact with them. This may seem like it would be too much, but with the following 3 communication tools SwiftReach makes it easy.
- Emergency Notification Systems
A reliable emergency alert system, allows utility companies to instantly send notifications to customers with unmatched speed and reliability via voice, text, email, and social media. Customers no longer have to rely on TV and Radio for updates and can now get important information sent directly to their phones.
- Inbound Hotlines
Inbound hotlines make everybody’s lives easier. The call volume utility companies see when there are power outages is staggering. Simply share vital information with your customers and reduce inbound call congestion with an inbound hotline.
- GIS Mapping
With GIS Mapping capabilities, utility companies are able to geo-target alerts to populations in specific locations by drawing a polygon around an area, or by using a radius around an address - making it easy to communicate with very specific groups.
SwiftReach works with thousands of utility companies country-wide, some of which are utilizing our systems for Winter Storm Indra right now! Learn more about our world-class emergency alerting and incident management system today.