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Severe Storms Cause Extensive Damage, Resulting in Electric Service Outages
Ameren Illinois Issues Safety Warning

Ameren Illinois officials encourage customers to take precautions and want to issue a safety warning to all residents in the impacted areas following last night’s storms.

“Safety is our priority every day of the year, but it takes on added significance when severe weather strikes,” said Ron Pate, vice president of Operations and Technical Service, Ameren Illinois. “The first safety rule is to stay away from downed power lines and always call us at 800-755-5000 if you see downed lines,” Pate said. “Never go outside during a power outage after sunset because you won't be able to see a downed power line that could still be energized and dangerous. Stay away from brush, shrubs and downed trees that may hide downed lines.”

If you see a fallen or sagging wire, assume that it is still energized and dangerous. Electric power lines can carry power even after being knocked to the ground. Stay away and warn others to do the same.

Last night’s storm began working its way through the Ameren Illinois territory at about 7:00 p.m. At its peak, more than 32,000 customers were without power overnight.  As of 3:00 p.m. today, there are about 11,300 customers without power. Ameren Illinois is unable to provide estimated restoration times until the full extent of the damage to the distribution system is known. Real-time outage information is available at illinoisoutage.com.  Photos of storm damage across the Ameren Illinois territory are available on the outage page and at Twitter.com/AmerenIllinois.

Customer Safety Tips

Before A Storm

The measures customers should take to prepare for a power outage or loss of natural gas service are similar to those needed to prepare for any emergency situation.

  • Detailed safety and outage information is available at IllinoisOutage.com. Customers with mobile devices can visit www.ameren.mobi.
  • If your electric service is interrupted, be sure to unplug or protect sensitive computer and electronic equipment with a high-quality surge protector.
  • When severe weather is predicted, make certain your cell phone is fully charged. Also, remember that cordless land line telephones will not function in the event of a power outage.
  • Prepare a storm kit and store it in a secure, centrally located part of your home. A list of ideas for an emergency kit can be found at AmerenIllinois.com.

Food Safety

  • If in doubt, throw it out.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible – this will keep foods cold for about four hours. A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours if the door remains closed. A freezer that is half full will keep the temperature for about 24 hours.
  • Be sure to keep meat, seafood and dairy products as cold as possible. Discard any perishable food that has been above 40 degrees for over two hours.
  • If it looks like the power outage will continue beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items.
  • Generally, the following items can be kept on a countertop:
    • Jams and jellies
    • Butter and margarine
    • Ketchup, mustard, pickles, relish and similar condiments
    • Fresh uncut fruits and vegetables
  • For more guidelines visit FoodSafety.gov

Portable Generator Safety

Customers who use portable generators during a power outage must remember that they can become deadly when not used properly. Those who install a portable generator should also install a safety disconnect switch to prevent the electricity produced by the generator from feeding back into the utility lines. Never plug a generator directly into an outlet to power a home.

Back feeding electricity into utility lines thought to be de-energized could result in damage to property. More seriously, back fed power poses an unseen hazard to utility personnel who are working on the power lines. In the event power is back fed into downed power lines, anyone coming into contact with those lines could be seriously injured or killed. Portable generators also must never be operated inside a garage or other building as generator engines produce deadly carbon monoxide.

Reporting an Outage

If your power goes out, call Ameren Illinois at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week – and always call as soon as possible to report a downed line or natural gas odor.  The Ameren Illinois contact number is 800-755-5000. In addition to the safety and outage information available at IllinoisOutage.com, customers and media can receive timely updates on outage restoration by following the Ameren Illinois news feed at Twitter.com/AmerenIllinois.


Electrical safety advice:

  • When water comes into contact with energized electrical wiring, appliances and other devices, it creates a major threat of serious injury and electrocution.
  • Never enter a flooded basement or other flooded area where water may be in contact with electrical wiring, appliances and other devices.
  • Never attempt to turn off power at the main electrical panel box if you must stand in water or on a wet floor to do so.
  • Never use electrical appliances or devices or touch electrical switches, outlets or cords if you are standing in water or are on a wet surface, or even if you are wet or the device is wet.
  • Keep electric-powered tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from water and wet surfaces.

In the event of flooding, Ameren Illinois will turn off electrical power to a home or business at the request of a customer. Contact Ameren Illinois at 800-755-5000 to have the power turned off when flood waters are likely to reach the main electrical panel box. Ameren Illinois also will turn power off at the request of local authorities.

Natural gas safety advice:

  • If you detect a strong odor of natural gas, immediately leave your home or business and call Ameren Illinois Customer Service at 800-755-5000. Do not turn lights on or off, operate any electrical device, use a phone or light a match inside or near the building.
  • If you detect a faint odor of natural gas, attempt to follow the odor to its source. It may be an extinguished pilot light or a partially turned on burner valve. These are problems you can safely and easily fix. If you cannot fix the problem, leave your home or business and call Ameren Illinois Customer Service at 800-755-5000.

If flood waters reach or are likely to reach the controls of a natural gas furnace, water heater or other appliance (generally, the controls are located at the bottom of the appliance), call Ameren Illinois at 800-755-5000 to have the natural gas service turned off. Ameren Illinois also will turn off natural gas service at the request of local authorities.

 Ameren Illinois recommends these actions after a flood:

  • Before touching or unplugging electrical appliances or devices that have been in contact with water, turn off the circuit that feeds the appliance or have the power to the building disconnected.
  • If you have any doubts about the safety of your home or business electrical system, have it inspected by a professional electrician.
  • Have a professional service person inspect an air conditioner, furnace, water heater and any other electrical or natural gas appliance or device that was entirely or partially submerged to determine if it can be used, requires repairs or must be replaced
  • If electrical or natural gas service has been turned off, contact Ameren Illinois at 800-755-5000 to have it turned on once the electrical and natural gas systems have been determined by a service professional to be safe. 

Additional safety information is available at IllinoisOutage.com and at SafeElectricity.org. Additional flood recovery information is available from the University of Illinois Extension at web.extension.illinois.edu/disaster/.

Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 806,000 natural gas customers in Illinois, and our mission is to meet their energy needs in a safe, reliable, efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Our service area covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com or find us on Twitter @AmerenIllinois.

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