Winter is coming and Xcel Energy reminds you to think about what to do in the event of severe winter weather. You can rest assured that Xcel Energy is prepared to respond quickly and safely during weather-related outages, with crews and equipment on standby at service centers throughout the metro areas we service when severe winter weather approaches. Before severe winter weather hits, here are some tips to stay safe:
Stay informed — Sign up for outage notifications
Snow and ice can cause electrical outages, and it’s important for customers to know if they are affected. Customers can sign up for outage notifications through the My Account feature on the Xcel Energy website. Additionally, the site hosts an outage map that displays information on the number of customers out and anticipated time for restoration. You can also stay informed by following Xcel Energy on Facebook and Twitter.
Stay away from downed power lines
Always assume an electric line, even one that is on or near the ground, is energized and therefore dangerous. Never, under any circumstance, touch or move a downed power line. If you come across a downed power line, leave the area and report it immediately by calling 1-800-895-1999.
Keep gas meters clear
Clearing snow and ice from natural gas meters is key to avoiding the potential for dangerous natural gas buildup indoors due to vents becoming sealed when covered in ice and snow melt drips on it during the day and refreeze at night. Xcel Energy strongly recommends keeping the entire meter assembly clear of snow and ice. Gently remove snow or ice from the meter, associated piping and the roofline above the meter. Check often to ensure melting snow isn’t dripping on the meter from the roof or nearby trees. Use a shovel around a meter to move snow away; avoid using your snowblower near a meter.
Build a home emergency kit
Xcel Energy recommends assembling an easily accessible kit that you can rely on in the event of a power outage during severe winter weather.
Useful items may include:
- Xcel Energy phone numbers – 1-800-895-1999 for residential or 1-800-481-4700 for business
- Battery-powered radio or television
- Back up phone chargers
- A phone that does not require electricity
- Non-electric alarm clock
- Bottled water and nonperishable food
- Manual can opener
- First aid kit
- Extension cords (for partial outages)
- Manufacturer’s instructions on how to manually open power-operated doors (e.g., garage doors)
Xcel Energy encourages you to take advantage of rebates and incentives to install energy efficient furnaces, air conditioners, and insulation. If you do use a space heater, take care to use it safely. More than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year in the United States, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International. When using a space heater, make sure the heater has the label showing it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory, and read the manufacturer’s instructions and warning labels. Additionally, inspect heaters for cracked or broken plugs and connections; don’t use it if they are frayed, worn or damaged. Never leave a space heater unattended. Turn it off when leaving a room and never go to sleep with a space heater on.
Observe food safety
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), food safety is directly related to the temperature of the food. To maintain refrigerator and freezer temperatures, keep doors closed as much as possible. A full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for approximately two days and a half-full freezer approximately one day. Visit the USDA website for more information.
Report your outage
You can help Xcel Energy get a jump on power restoration by telling us about outages. Just call 1-800-895-1999 and follow the prompts—our automated phone reporting system lets you report outages in less than 60 seconds. Once we’ve identified the cause of the problem, the system or an Xcel Energy representative will provide you with an estimated restoration time.
With the potential for severe winter weather, a little preparation can help you be prepared to take on the unexpected.