Prepared to Weather a Storm
On Friday, April 28, 2017, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Dodge City predicted parts of Western Kansas would see wintry weather over the weekend. By Saturday morning, all of Wheatland Electric’s service territory in western Kansas was in a Winter Storm Warning.
The NWS predicted parts of western Kansas would see significant snow accumulations with tree limb damage and power outages likely. Heavy snow began falling Saturday morning resulting in scattered outages across Wheatland’s service territory. Snow continued to fall across much of southwest Kansas. The heaviest snow bands stretched from southwest of Ulysses to Scott City. Wheatland’s service territory experienced snowfall rates of 1 to 3 inches per hour. The snow shut down numerous roads Sunday in western Kansas. The National Weather Service in Dodge City said the snow amounts were “unprecedented” for so late in the season—16 to 20 inches fell. Howling winds accompanied the snow, gusting up to 70 mph. The storm dropped visibility to near zero and resulted in snowdrifts as high as 8 feet.
Wheatland suffered major damage to its system with more than 13,000 outages and 1,100 poles damaged. Restoration efforts lasted more than a month. All meters were restored with power on June 7, 2017. Life in Kansas is beautiful, and living in Kansas is a constant reminder of the awesome power of “Mother Nature.” From thunderstorms and lightning, to tornadoes and blizzards, dangerous storms can occur at any time of the year and can be devastating to homes, properties and lives.
These storms can also take down power lines. We want you to be prepared for storms and a possible power outage. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to prepare for a storm, but it does require some planning before the storm hits.
“Being safe around electricity is something you should focus on year-round,” said QUINTEN WHEELER, manager of safety and compliance at Wheatland Electric. “The best way to cope with a storm is to be prepared before it strikes.”
How to Stay Safe
Wheatland wants you to know how to stay safe until power can be restored. We recommend taking the following safety precautions:
- Never enter a flooded basement if electrical outlets are submerged. The water could be energized.
- Do not turn power off if you must stand in water to do so. Call your electric utility, and have them turn off power at the meter.
- Before entering storm-damaged buildings, make sure electricity and gas are turned off.
- Do not use water-damaged electronics before properly restoring them. Electric motors in appliances should be cleaned and reconditioned before use. It may be necessary to replace some of your appliances and electronics. Have your water-damaged items inspected and approved by a professional before using them.
- If you clean-up outdoors after a storm, do not use electronic equipment in wet conditions.
To help you get through, have a storm kit prepared. Keep the kit in a cool, dry place, and make sure all members of the family know where it is.
Be Aware of Downed Powerlines
Storm preparedness also means knowing what to do if you encounter downed power lines. Here are some tips to help you stay safe:
- Just because power lines don’t appear energized does not mean they are dead. Every downed power line is potentially energized and dangerous until utility crews arrive on the scene to ensure power has been cut off. Downed power lines, stray wires, and debris in contact with them all have the potential to deliver a fatal shock. Stay far away and keep others away from downed power lines.
- If you see a downed power line, move away from the line and anything touching it.
- The proper way to move away from the line is to shuffle with small steps, keeping your feet together and on the ground at all times. This will minimize the potential for a strong electric shock. Electricity wants to move from a high voltage zone to a low voltage one—and it could do that through your body.
- Do not drive over downed lines.
- If you are in a vehicle that is in contact with a downed line, stay in the vehicle. Honk your horn for help and tell others to stay away from your vehicle.
- If you must leave your vehicle because it’s on fire, jump out of the vehicle with both feet together and avoid making contact with the energized vehicle and the ground at the same time. This way you avoid being the path of electricity from the vehicle to the earth.
Being prepared in the event of inclement weather and potential power outages is key in keeping your family safe and comfortable.