Walton EMC urges customers to prepare for severe winter weather

Be ready for outages, keeping bills in check should be goals

MONROE, Ga. – With the threat of bitterly cold temperatures and high winds hanging over Northeast Georgia, Walton Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) urges all customer-owners to prepare.

The main two areas consumers need to address are possible outages from trees, high winds, and cars on icy roads, as well as keeping bills reasonable through wise electricity use.

According to the National Weather Service, our area is likely to experience these extreme conditions:

•Temperatures 20 to 35 degrees below normal, with lows of 19 degrees Friday morning, 9 degrees Saturday morning and 15 degrees Christmas Day.

•Wind gusts of 30 to 40 miles per hour beginning Thursday night and extending into early Saturday.

•Wind chills of 2 degrees Friday morning and -3 degrees Saturday morning.

•66 to 69 hours of continuous temperatures below freezing beginning 7 a.m. Friday.

Outage Preparation

Recent rains have made soils in our area soft. Expected wind gusts can cause tree roots to give way as well as break limbs that bring down power lines. Slick roads due to flash freezing early Friday morning could cause vehicles to hit power poles. Check these areas to be ready in case your power goes out:

Light – Secure flashlights, battery-powered lanterns and extra batteries. Avoid light sources that require a flame or fire.

Water – If you depend on a well, you’ll need to fill bathtubs or other large containers for household use, like flushing toilets. Fill clean containers or buy bottles for drinking water. If you have livestock or poultry, secure a stand-by generator to run the well.

Food – Nonperishable foods that don’t need cooking are ideal, like canned fruit, powdered milk, peanut butter, bread and crackers. Don’t forget a manual can opener!

Heat – Have blankets, sleeping bags and extra clothes, including hats. If you have a fireplace, make sure there’s kindling and a good supply of wood. Be extremely careful when using alternate heating sources. Some are not approved for indoor use and could be a fire or carbon monoxide hazard. Make sure your fire extinguisher is charged and working.

Information – Get a portable radio with extra batteries for local information and a NOAA Weather Radio for weather warnings. A wind-up or battery powered alarm clock might come in handy. Remember to charge your cell phone or have a car charger.

Loved Ones – Have a contingency plan in place for patients who have a medical necessity for electricity. This includes backup power, extra supplies and medications or an alternate location until the outage is over.

Learn more about preparing for power outages and the status of repairs by visiting our Storm Center: https://www.waltonemc.com/news/storm-center/

If power does go out, take steps to protect your family and property:

•Limit freezer and refrigerator door openings. Food will keep longer if doors remain closed. Check items for spoilage before serving. Don’t cook inside with charcoal.

•Try to keep outside door openings to a minimum and use blankets, sleeping bags and extra clothes to help stay warm. Dress in layers and wear a hat. Cover drafty windows and doors with blankets. Close off doors and stay in the room with your heat source. If the room has openings without doors, use blankets to cover them.

•If you use a portable generator, isolate it from our lines. Generators that are not isolated can feed back into our electrical system and possibly electrocute anyone contacting those wires. If you don’t have a double throw transfer switch installed, plug appliances directly into the generator using a properly sized extension cord.

•Turn off all large appliances that come on automatically, like electric water heaters,
heat pumps and space heaters. Make sure appliances you were using when the outage occurred, like ovens, stoves, irons or power tools are turned off. Disconnect sensitive electronics like TVs and computers to avoid damage from surges.

•When the power comes back on, give the electric system a chance to stabilize by gradually using the appliances you turned off. Use only the most essential first and wait 15 minutes on the others, including water and space heating.

•If you clear trees on your property, don’t try to remove those tangled in power lines. Stay away from any downed lines (no matter what type) and notify us about them immediately.

Using Energy Wisely

With these temperatures and winds, there is no doubt that heating systems will be stretched to the limit. Consumers should not be surprised if their heating systems run continuously throughout the period or for many hours on end.

Electricity prices are being impacted by high natural gas prices. That means consumers are paying more right now than they did in recent months. To learn more, visit https://bit.ly/WEMC_high_prices

Follow these tips to keep energy use in check:

•Set thermostats to 68 degrees during the day and lower while sleeping. Each degree lower saves three to five percent in heating costs.

•Wear extra clothing including sweatshirts and sock hats. Don’t go around the house in bare feet.

•Make sure the fireplace damper is closed when not in use. If your fireplace damper is loose, get a fireplace plug to stop drafts.

•Set the water heater to 120 degrees and insulate all hot water pipes. This will save three to five percent on water heating costs.

•Tightly cover outdoor hot tubs.

•Caulk, weatherstrip and insulate where needed.

•Sign up for Walton EMC’s levelized billing program. This keeps your electric bill a more consistent amount all year.

Get more ways to save energy at home by watching our Home Energy Evaluation video at https://bit.ly/WEMC_energy_eval

Walton EMC is an innovative, customer-owned and -focused electric utility serving accounts in 10 Northeast Georgia counties between Atlanta and Athens. In its long history of meeting customer-owners’ needs, the cooperative established successful natural gas and security subsidiaries as well as nationally recognized solar initiatives. For more information, visit waltonemc.com.

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