With the chance of snow, sleet and ice accumulations forecasted for portions of Southern and Central Illinois, the Ameren Illinois Utilities have placed their personnel on alert and are advising customers to ready themselves for the possibility of power outages.
"Safety is our first and foremost concern when severe storms strike," said Ron Pate, vice president of Regional Operations for the Ameren Illinois Utilities (AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS and AmerenIP).
"The most important safety rule is to stay clear of downed power lines and always call your Ameren Illinois Utility or '911' if you see downed lines. Assume all downed power lines are energized. Stay inside, especially at night because you may walk into an energized power line. Stay clear of brush, shrubs and downed trees that may hide downed lines," Pate said.
In anticipation of severe winter weather, the Ameren Illinois Utilities have placed special Ameren Storm Trailers in Belleville and Marion. These trailers are filled with materials field crews need to perform their service restoration work. The trailers can be moved to various staging sites to provide materials when outside crews come in to help with the restoration efforts and to provide a store of materials close to the area with the most damage.
The utilities also have placed personnel on alert, activated "war rooms" where restoration efforts are directed and are positioning key resources so they will be available if needed.
If severe weather begins to cause damage to the Ameren Illinois Utility system, we will activate our Ameren Emergency Operations Center strategically located in Decatur.
The measures customers should take to prepare for a power outage or loss of natural gas service are similar to those needed to prepare for any emergency situation.
Here are some tips on dealing with winter storms:
-- Because most major outages are caused by bad weather, start by
developing shelter plans for severe storm conditions.
-- If any member of your family has a medical condition, plan and make
arrangements to have that person's special needs met in the event
electricity is not available for an extended period of time during a
-- Assemble a "storm kit" and store it in a secure, centrally located
part of your house. Make sure all family members know where to find
that kit. It should contain:
-- Emergency telephone numbers; flashlights and fresh batteries (avoid
using candles, lanterns or oil lamps due to the fire risk); extra
garage and house keys; a battery-powered radio; a battery-powered
or wind-up alarm clock; a supply of bottled water (one gallon per
person per day); non-perishable foods that don't require heating;
blankets, bedding or sleeping bags; a first-aid kit and
medications; a hand-operated can opener; special items for infants
or family members with special needs; hand tools, such as a
screwdriver, scissors and duct tape; household items like plastic
utensils, paper plates, waterproof matches and household bleach;
identification and copies of important family documents.
-- If your electric service is interrupted, be sure to unplug or protect
sensitive computer and electronic equipment with a high-quality surge
-- When severe weather is predicted, make certain your cell phone is
fully charged. Also, remember that cordless landline telephones will
not function in the event of a power outage.
-- If your power goes out, check first with a neighbor to see if you are
the only one without power. If you are the only one without service,
check your panel box for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. If
any breakers are in the "off" position or if a fuse is blown, you
should investigate the problem. If you are still without power, or if
others in your neighborhood are experiencing a power outage, call your
Ameren Illinois utility at any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week
-- and always call as soon as possible to report a downed line or
natural gas odor! The Ameren Illinois Utility numbers are 888-672-5252
(AmerenCILCO), 888-789-2477 (AmerenCIPS) and 800-755-7000 (AmerenIP).
A full description of the Ameren Illinois Utilities' restoration process and tips on how customers can prepare for service disruptions is available on the Ameren Web site at http://www.ameren.com/ (select "Outage Information" from the left-hand menu, select Ameren Illinois Outage Information and then select "Ameren's Storm Response" from the left-hand menu). Customers can learn more about power outage situations by selecting "Outage Information" and then such menu options as the "Outage Map" and "My Electric Outage."