WHAT TO DO IF THE LIGHTS GO OUT. PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OF OKLAHOMA

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1 WHAT TO DO IF THE LIGHTS GO OUT. PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OF OKLAHOMA

2 We all take reliable electric service for granted. Flip a switch, push a button, turn a knob; the lights come on; the home computer powers up; the air conditioner turns on. Service like this just doesn t happen. PSO works around the clock to keep the power flowing to you. Yet, sometimes lights go out despite our best efforts. Severe thunderstorms packing high winds and intense lightning, heavy ice storms and accidents can interrupt your electric service. When it s lights out we immediately start the process of restoring your power, and we stay at it around the clock until every customer has electric service again. Outages are infrequent, but they do happen. We have packed this brochure with tips to help you get through a power loss with greater personal safety and less inconvenience. Please review this information and keep it handy for future reference.

3 BEFORE THE LIGHTS GO OUT PAGE 1

4 If your life or the life of a loved one depends on electricity, you need to develop a personal emergency response plan. Emergency equipment Be sure to keep a supply of fresh batteries on hand for flashlights, portable radios and TVs. If a storm threatens at night, place a flashlight where you can find it easily if the power goes off. Headlamps used for camping are useful during an outage because they leave your hands free. Battery-powered radios and TVs will help you receive news updates on the outage while waiting for the power to be restored. Never use a lantern intended for outside illumination inside your home. Burn candles only when adults are present. Keep candles away from flammable materials and children and pets. Extinguish all flames before leaving the house or going to sleep. Keep a freshly charged fire extinguisher nearby and make sure you know how to operate it before there s an emergency. PAGE 2

5 PERSONAL EMERGENCY PLANS NEEDED FOR MEDICAL EQUIPMENT USE. Individuals who rely on electrically powered oxygen or other medical equipment should ALWAYS have their own personal backup plan for coping with power outages and other potential emergencies. While PSO works hard to provide reliable electric service it CANNOT guarantee the power will never fail. If your life or the life of a loved one depends on electricity, you NEED to develop a personal emergency response plan. It is suggested your plan include the family members and friends to contact when the power goes out, current phone numbers, where the medical equipment user should be relocated until power is restored, emergency supplies of oxygen and other critical needs, who is responsible for what actions, etc. You should review your plan periodically to keep it up to date. NOTE: Even customers whose accounts have been certified with the Medical Awareness Code (MAC) designation need to have their own backup plans for coping with power outages. The MAC designation is only intended to ensure that PSO provides such customers advance notice of planned, maintenance outages. PSO cannot provide priority restoration to MAC-designated customers during emergencies. PAGE 3

6 IF THE LIGHTS GO OUT Important notes If all of your power goes out, call PSO to report the outage. PSO s outage reporting number is It is important that you report your outage. We may not know about everyone who is without power unless you call us. Don t assume a neighbor has called to report the outage. We may not know your power is off unless you call yourself. If you have electricity in parts of your home but not in others, check to see if a breaker has tripped or a fuse has blown. Reset the breaker or install a new fuse. If the circuit breaker trips again or the new fuse blows, you probably have an overloaded circuit or faulty appliance. If you can t find the cause you may need to call an electrician. After a damaging severe storm there may be many tens of thousands of PSO customers without power. In such a natural disaster, PSO must handle multiple priorities. The top priority is to safeguard the public from any power lines downed by the storm. Another initial priority is to re-energize any affected vital community services such as hospitals, water and sewer facilities, and police and fire stations. Then, we restore lines that bring power to the largest number of homes and businesses. In the final stage of restoration we concentrate on individual lines. In major outages affecting large numbers of customers, PSO will not be able to tell you specifically how long the outage will last at your home or business. We will do our best to keep you informed with updates through our Customer Solutions Center and through the news media to provide you our best general assessment. PAGE 4

7 You may see a PSO service truck leave your neighborhood before your power is restored. In a major outage, some employees are responsible for assessing the extent of the damage, so what you may have seen is the damage assessment team doing its job and moving on to the next location. Assessment must be performed first so the job of repairing the lines and restoring service can be planned for maximum efficiency. In many instances, PSO s contract tree crews must clear lines of trees and limbs before repairs can begin. Turn on your porch light. This is a visual indication to our repair personnel that your power has been restored, so they can move on to their next job. Play it safe: Avoid all fallen utility lines! Never touch or go near a utility line that has fallen. Downed power lines may appear to be harmless but could be carrying electricity. Assume that any fallen line, even telephone and cable TV lines, can be carrying electricity. Energized lines on the ground do not always spark and jump about. Sometimes they lay silent and unmoving, but are still deadly. If a line has fallen into contact with any object (fence, lawn furniture, storage buildings, etc.) or a puddle of water, stay away. Call PSO immediately to report downed lines: Refrigerated and frozen food Food and beverages will keep longer during an outage if you keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. A fully loaded freezer can keep foods frozen up to 48 hours without electricity. Avoid opening the door. If you open the door, the food will thaw and spoil faster. If you are concerned about your investment in refrigerated and frozen food you may want to move your food to another location that has power. PAGE 5

8 Immediately after your electricity is restored, inspect all food in your refrigerator and freezer. Food that has thawed or is discolored or gives off a foul odor should be thrown away. Meat and milk products spoil quickly. Play it safe. If in doubt, throw it out. Appliances and electronics When the power goes out, disconnect electronic equipment to prevent possible damage. This includes computers, TVs, stereos, and microwave ovens. Make sure electric space heaters, washers, dryers and air conditioners are turned off. If a number of large appliances start up at once when power is restored, they may overload your home s electric circuits, leading to appliance damage or, possibly, a fire. Leave a single lamp or radio turned on to alert you that power has been restored. Then, turn on large appliances one at a time. Portable generators Never plug a generator into an electrical outlet of any kind. This feeds electricity back into PSO s lines and could result in someone receiving a severe injury or even a fatal electric shock. Do not connect a portable generator to your home s main electrical panel unless you first have installed a load transfer switch (which isolates your home s wiring from PSO s electric system). Without a load transfer switch in place and properly switched, the electricity produced by a portable generator not only enters the home s wiring it also backs up into PSO s electric system. This creates a life-threatening hazard for our repair crews as they work to restore power. It also can delay service restoration because our crews may have to locate and turn off the source(s) of the electricity before they can complete repairs. If you do not have a load transfer switch installed, plug appliances and lamps directly into the generator. Follow the manufacturer s operating instructions carefully to ensure safe operation. PAGE 6

9 F AQUESTIONS QMOST FREQUENTLY ASKED

10 Can you tell me how long my power will be out? If the outage involves only a few electric lines, PSO in many instances can provide a timely estimate as to when service will be restored. If the outage is widespread due to a major storm, it may take PSO 24 hours or more before it can provide even a general assessment. Why do my neighbors have power but I don t? In general, this means your neighbors are served by a different electrical circuit and/or transformer from a different direction than you are. Is it safe to run an extension cord from a house that has power to one that doesn t? Absolutely not! This is extremely hazardous whether the cord runs across the street or across the yard. Vehicles driving over the cord can wear off its insulation, creating the potential for an electric shock and/or fire. Children could play with it and receive a shock. The insulation may have a tiny cut invisible to the eye and pose a shock hazard if the cord gets wet from rain or snow. If the cord is not connected between properly grounded home electric systems, there also is a shock hazard. Further, this can overload the electric wiring of the house providing the power and create the potential for a fire. PAGE 8

11 If the outage is going to extend over several days, should I leave my house and go somewhere that has power and heating/cooling? Only you can make this decision for yourself, based on your own individual needs. If you do leave, turn on your porch light switch and try to check your house each day to see if power to your neighborhood and your house has been restored. If all of your neighbors have power but you still don t, call PSO right away to report your continued outage. It s not uncommon for a single customer to have an individualized problem after the widespread outage has been eliminated. Where does PSO s responsibility end and mine begin for the line running between my house and PSO s lines? With overhead service, the customer s responsibility for electric service starts at the weatherhead; with underground service, the customer s responsibility starts at the meter base (also called the "meter can"). PSO is responsible for service up to the weatherhead or meter base. In all instances, the customer is responsible for the structure s electrical wiring. The electric meter is PSO s property. WEATHERHEAD ELECTRIC METER METER BASE PAGE 9

12 Who is responsible for clearing trees and limbs that are contacting the line from the pole to my house? The customer is responsible for keeping the line between the pole and the house clear of vegetation. However, due to the potential for a crippling or fatal electric shock, people who are not trained to work around energized electric lines should never attempt to clear the line themselves. At no extra charge, PSO will lower your service line to the ground so the tree clearance work may be performed safely and we will return to reconnect the line. Please call PSO s Customer Service number ( ) a minimum of two business days prior to the date you want to trim the trees on your service line. While we will try our best to honor the appointment, be advised that storm restoration or other emergencies could prevent PSO from performing this service on the desired date. We will be happy to reschedule if you ll call us again. After I report my outage is there a need for me to call back to give you a reminder? How often should I call back? Yes. PSO suggests you call back every 12 hours until your power is restored. This helps us update our records of customers who are still out. The company will pass along updates on the restoration to the public via the news media as well as the PSO Customer Solutions Center. Sometimes during the final "wrapping up" stages PAGE 10

13 of a major storm recovery, PSO will ask through the news media for anyone still without power to call PSO again. We do this to ensure that an individual customer or small groups of customers who have an isolated outage are not overlooked, which is a possibility during a large-scale power restoration effort. Will PSO reimburse me for the cost of meat and other groceries that spoil in my freezer and refrigerator? No. The state-approved terms and conditions governing PSO's operations recognize that the provision of electric service is subject to occasional interruptions due to causes beyond PSO's control. PSO is not liable for spoiled food or other financial losses caused by such interruptions. While PSO (like any other electric service provider) cannot guarantee service that is free of interruptions, the company strives to provide reliable electric service at all times, even under difficult circumstances. PAGE 11

14 SERVICE THAT NEVER STOPS Even if your power goes off, PSO s service never stops. We re on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When an outage occurs, we jump on the problem immediately, calling out repair crews and many other resources needed to identify and fix the problem as quickly and safely as possible. We ask for your understanding, patience and cooperation during an outage. We want your power restored just as quickly as you do. PSO Customer Solutions Center To report an outage: Customer service: Customer service agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If an agent is unable to answer your call personally, please do not hang up. Please stay on the line to use our automated system to report your outage. During large, widespread outages, PSO activates the automated answering system which can handle 100,000 calls per hour. The automated system reports your "lights out" call just as a live customer service agent would. PAGE 12

15 NON-STOP SERVICE

16 PSO Customer Service representatives are available around the clock. Customer service: To report an outage: Public Service Company of Oklahoma 212 East 6th Street Tulsa, Oklahoma Printed August 2004

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