Outages & Power Problems: Power Outages

Outages can be caused by many things, but usually happen in the stormy fall and winter months when hazardous weather can down power lines, or cause traffic accidents that can do the same. Luckily, outages are relatively rare at SUB and tend to last minutes or hours, not days. Still, being prepared for being without power for longer is always advisable.

What to do during an outage:

  • If your power is disrupted, follow these steps to protect you and your appliances when the electricity comes back on:
  • Check your fuse box or breaker panel to see if the problem is with your circuits. If it's not, call SUB at 541-726-2395, any time of the day or night, and report the outage.
  • Turn off your heat source (furnace, baseboard heaters) and shut off your water heater at the breaker panel. Turn off your VCR, TV, microwave, personal computer and other major appliances or electronics so that SUB's distribution circuits don't overload when the power comes back on.
  • If lightning is causing the outage, consider unplugging your electronic equipment from the wall to avoid surges through the outlets.
  • Turn a light on so you'll know when the power is back on. Turn a porch light on so SUB's crews will know when your power has been restored.
  • Do not use a portable generator unless your household circuits are separated from SUB's lines with a protective switch. This modification to your equipment must be permitted and inspected through the City of Springfield. The sudden energizing of an outside line can hurt linemen working to repair your service.
  • Do not go near downed lines, even if they appear dead. They can become energized again without warning. Do not get out of your car if a downed wire is touching it. Your car will isolate you from harm.

How To Check Your Breaker Panel
If you need to shut off the main power in your house due to an emergency, or if you want to see if an outage affects only your circuits, check your service panel. Most panels have a main switch to cut all the power off. If you have an emergency and don't have a main switch, turn all of the circuit breakers off. If you're shutting off the power to work on an appliance or the wiring, post a sign that says, "Leave power off" so no one will turn it on by mistake.

How to prepare for an outage
Be prepared for power outages with an emergency power outage kit, and keep it close at hand so it's easy to find in the dark. Make sure your kit includes:

  • Flashlights (preferably two or more) with fresh batteries. Check the batteries every six months. Keep a flashlight in your car so you will have light if you are entering your home after dark.
  • Long-burning candles and candle holders (please make sure you have a working fire extinguisher in your home).
  • Matches, both book matches and longer wooden matches.
  • Battery-powered radio; wind-up or battery-powered clock.
  • Spare batteries for all emergency equipment (flashlights, radio and clock).
  • A two-day supply of water and either freeze-dried or canned foods (and, of course, a hand-operated can opener).
  • A spare first aid kit near your power outage kit, or include first aid materials inside.
  • A phone that doesn’t rely on electricity. If your primary telephone is a cordless phone or a phone powered through an answering machine, it won’t work during an outage, but a phone that plugs directly into a phone jack often will and can keep you in contact with the outside world during an emergency.

How power is restored
After a major outage, SUB follows a systematic, efficient process to restore power. While making repairs, SUB is also busy rerouting power along undamaged circuits to bring power back to customers as quickly as possible.

Here is the basic process utilities, including SUB, follow during power outages:

  • Emergency and Essential Services - Efforts to restore power to agencies that protect the health and safety of the public clearly need to be a priority. These include hospitals, police departments, fire departments, water treatment facilities and pumping stations.
  • High-voltage transmission lines - Transmission lines carry high voltage electricity from the generation sources to SUB’s substations. If there is a problem with a transmission line, it must be repaired before other repairs can be made.
  • Substations and Distribution Lines - Substations reduce the high-voltage power from the transmission lines so that it can be carried on distribution lines that serve neighborhoods and commercial areas. Repairing damage to these components is the next necessary step in the power restoration process.
  • Tap Lines - Repairs are then made to tap lines that supply small groups of homes and businesses and finally service lines that bring power to individual homes and businesses. This is the most time consuming part of the restoration process.

After a power outage, if you notice that your neighbor's power is back on and yours is not, call SUB at 541-726-2395. There may be a problem with your individual service line.

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