Electrical Outages & Home Safety

IF THE POWER GOES OUT

  • Check your fuse or breaker box for blown fuses or tripped circuits. If they are okay, see if neighbors are without power.
  • Call your utility immediately. You may be asked for information, or hear a message if the situation has already been reported. 9-1-1 is for reporting emergencies ONLY.
  • Turn off all electrical equipment to prevent overloading the system when power is restored.
  • Turn on a porch light and one inside light so you and utility crews will know when service is restored.
  • Listen to the radio (battery-powered) for updates on major electrical outages.
  • If your neighbors' power comes back on, but yours does not, call your utility company again.

EMERGENCY LIGHTING

Flashlights: Each person should have their own flashlight. Store extra bulbs and batteries.
Light-sticks: Self-contained chemical lights that are activated by bending. Work well as night-lights for children.
Candles: Can be dangerous.

DOWNED UTILITY LINES

If you see any wire lying on the ground (or dangling in the air), don't touch it with anything - stay back. Call your utility company immediately. Keep kids and pets away.

NEVER touch a downed wire. Electricity can travel through your body causing serious injury or death. If you see a downed line, take these precautions:

  • Expect every wire/line to be "live". The line does not have to spark or sizzle to carry electricity. Cable, phone, and alarm lines may be ELECTRIFIED. Do not touch.
  • If a power line is touching someone, stay away - you cannot help. If you touch the person, you could become a victim too.
  • Call 9-1-1 for emergency help.
  • If a utility line falls across your vehicle, don't get out! Wait for emergency help to arrive.
  • Never touch metal (like fences or guard rails) that have a wire laying on it. It may be electrified.

Who to call to report a power outage in Bergen County

PSE&G: 800-436-7734

Rockland Electric: 877-434-4100

Remember: Utility crews may have to remove limbs, replace parts, close circuit breakers. The more serious the problem, the longer it will take to restore customer service.

Important information when reporting a power outage

  • Name, address, and cross street
  • Time of outage
  • Are lights out, flickering, or dim?
  • Are the neighbors' lights out?
  • Have any wires fallen to the ground?
  • Tree limbs on lines?
  • Utility pole number

STAYING WARM:

Outages can occur at any time of year, but during cold weather the temperature inside your home can drop rapidly. Tips for staying warm:

  • Save body heat. Wear a hat, even while sleeping. Wear loose layers of clothing to trap body heat. Use blankets.
  • Lock in home heat. Pick one room (on a sunny side of the house) and close it off to keep the heat in.

HOUSEHOLD TIPS:

  • Your freezer will keep food frozen during an outage for about two days if it's full, one day if it's less than half-full. Don't open the door.
  • Protect your pipes: If the power is out and the weather is freezing, keep a steady drip of cold water on an inside faucet and wrap pipes to prevent damage.
  • Automatic garage door openers won't work if the power is out. Check to see if you have a manual override.
  • Home computers: Install a surge protector (not just a power strip) to protect your computer from power surges.
  • Charcoal or propane grills: NEVER use a cooking device designed for outdoors inside the home. They produce carbon monoxide which can be deadly.
  • Cordless phones won't work if the power is out. Have a backup phone that does not need electricity to work.
  • Generators: Never connect a home generator to a wall outlet. If used incorrectly, portable or auxiliary generators used for backup power at home can ruin your electrical system and start a fire. They can also feed electricity back into the utility system. This is very dangerous for crews repairing lines. Home generators should be installed by a licensed electrical contractor. Generators installed in accordance with electrical safety codes require an electrical permit and an electrical inspection. Improperly installed or improperly used generators pose a serious - sometimes fatal - risk to homeowners and utility workers.

Emergency Kit Check List:

  • Flashlights or chemical light-sticks
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Paper plates/plastic utensils
  • Manual can opener
  • Bottled drinking water
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Battery or wind-up alarm clock

(The above information is courtesy of, and used with the permission of, the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management.)