PEORIA, Ill., Dec. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- A weather forecast that includes the possibility of freezing rain, snow and sleet Sunday night and early next week finds the Ameren Illinois Utilities prepared for severe winter conditions while advising customers to ready themselves for the possibility of storm- related power outages throughout the winter.
"Safety is our priority every day of the year, but it takes on added significance when severe weather strikes," said Bill Prebil, Ameren Illinois Utilities vice president for Regional Operations.
"The first safety rule is to stay away from downed power lines and always call us or '911' if you see downed lines," Prebil said. "Never go outside in the dark 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."
Ron Pate, Ameren Illinois Utilities vice president of Regional Operations, explained: "When severe storms cause power outages, our first priority is to correct potentially life-threatening situations, such as downed power lines or hospitals without power. We then implement power restoration plans focused on restoring power for the greatest number of customers in the shortest length of time."
When there is a threat of severe weather, Pate said the key steps take by the Ameren Illinois Utilities include:
-- Constantly monitor weather conditions, watching for any changes that may impact service.
-- Place Ameren Illinois Utilities personnel on alert.
-- Consider staging field personnel in preparation for storm restoration work. Decisions on staging are based on evolving weather conditions.
-- In anticipation of severe winter weather, the Ameren Illinois Utilities may dispatch special Ameren Illinois Storm Trailers. These trailers are filled with materials field crews need to perform their service restoration work. The trailers can be moved to various staging sites to provide materials when outside crews come in to help with the restoration efforts and to provide a store of materials close to the area with the most damage.
-- In severe weather situations, the Ameren Illinois Utilities Emergency Operations Center will be activated. The center is strategically located in Decatur.
Customer Safety Tips
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.
-- Because most major outages are caused by severe weather, begin by developing shelter plans for severe storm conditions.
-- If any member of your family has a medical condition, plan and make arrangements to have that person's special needs met in the event electricity is not available for an extended period of time during a storm.
-- Assemble a "storm kit" and store it in a secure, centrally located part of your house. Make sure all family members know where to find that kit. It should contain:
-- Emergency telephone numbers; flashlights and fresh batteries (avoid using candles, lanterns or oil lamps due to the fire risk); extra garage and house keys; a battery-powered radio; a battery-powered or wind-up alarm clock; a supply of bottled water (one gallon per person per day); non-perishable foods that don't require heating; blankets, bedding or sleeping bags; a first-aid kit and medications; a hand-operated can opener; special items for infants or family members with special needs; hand tools, such as a screwdriver, scissors and duct tape; household items like plastic utensils, paper plates, waterproof matches and household bleach; identification and copies of important family documents.
-- 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.
-- If your power goes out, contact a neighbor to see if you are the only one without power. If you are the only one without service, check your panel box for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. If any breakers are in the "off" position or if a fuse is blown, you should investigate the problem. If you are still without power, or if others in your neighborhood are experiencing a power outage, call your Ameren Illinois Utility 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 utility numbers are 888-672-5252 (AmerenCILCO), 888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS) and 800-755-7000 (AmerenIP).
The Ameren Illinois utilities serve 1.2 million electric and more than 800,000 natural gas customers in a 43,700-square-mile area of Illinois.
Outage Information Resources
Ameren Illinois utility customers can access information about electricity service outages on the Ameren Web site (www.ameren.com) as follows:
-- Go to the "Storm Center" in the left-hand menu and select "Outage Information."
-- Then select "Ameren Illinois Outage Information." -- By selecting the "Outage Map," you can immediate see the areas that are affected by outages and the number of customers without power in the affected areas. Outages are listed by zip codes. -- Select "County Outages" to view the number of outages in each county. -- Select "My Electric Outage" to learn more about the outage affecting you. If you have not already done so, you will need to take a few moments to create a user ID and password. It is a good idea to do this before a storm occurs. With this service, you often can determine the outage cause and estimated restoration time. -- "Power Out? Call Us" provides complete contact information in the event of an outage. Review and print out this information before a storm occurs. -- "Storms and Emergencies" provides valuable customer information in dealing with severe storms. -- "Outage Restoration Trend" shows a graph to help customers understand the progress being made to restore power. -- "Emergency Preparedness" provides a link to Ready America. Here customers will learn how to assemble a storm emergency kit, how to make an emergency plan and how to stay informed.
SOURCE: Ameren Illinois Utilities
Web site: http://www.ameren.com//