First Energy preparing for strong winds, potential power outages

Local News

First Energy says it is prepared for heavy winds this weekend that have the potential to bring power outages. 

Columbiana, Lawrence and Mercer counties are under a high wind watch through Monday morning. 

The strongest winds are expected Sunday and could be more than 50 miles per hour. 

“We are prepared for a potentially challenging weather weekend for us, systemwide,” said Sam Belcher, president of FirstEnergy Utilities. “In much of our six-state service area, the already wet ground could be saturated with heavy rains Saturday followed by high winds Sunday into Monday, a combination that can cause trees to be uprooted. Also, the heavy winds have the potential to make it unsafe for our workers to use bucket trucks or ladders to do overhead repair work, which could delay power restoration efforts.”

Company and contractor crews have been notified of the possibility for severe weather, and calls with mutual assistance organizations have been made. Additional line and forestry resources will be secured over the weekend as needed to respond to the storm, according to First Energy.

Customers who may be left without power after the storm are encouraged to call 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877) to report their outage or click the “Report Outage” link on www.firstenergycorp.com.

In the event of severe weather, customers should immediately report downed wires to their utility or their local police or fire department. First Energy cautions that they should never go near a downed power line, even if they think it is no longer carrying electricity.

First Energy offered the following tips to prepare for outages during severe weather:

— Keep electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and tablet computers fully charged to be ready for any emergencies.

— Keep a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy. Tune to a local station for current storm information.

— Never use a portable generator inside the house or a closed garage. Ensure the proper generator is selected and installed by a qualified electrician. When operating a generator, the power coming into the home should always be disconnected. Otherwise, power from the generator could be sent back onto the utility lines, creating a hazard for utility workers.

— Gather extra blankets or a sleeping bag for each person. Do not use gas stoves, kerosene heaters or other open-flame heat sources indoors, as they could release deadly carbon monoxide gas into your home.

— If you have a water well and pump, keep an emergency supply of bottled water and/or fill your bathtub with fresh water.

— Stock an emergency supply of convenience foods that do not require cooking.

— Mobile phones can be charged in your vehicle when the power is out. This will ensure you have access to online information sources.

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