Storm safety

Severe weather can strike quickly, creating a variety of dangerous situations. Use the following information to keep your family safe during and after a storm.

Preparing for a storm

  • Consider signing up for outage alerts on your WPS account to keep informed. Visit Notification Settings to sign up.
  • Keep a battery operated portable radio, TV or public alert device handy for local weather forecasts and other important news bulletins.
  • Charge mobile devices and consider alternative charging options. You could use a backup battery, vehicle, or other source to charge your mobile device.
  • Unplug sensitive electronics.
  • Make plans for water pumps that operate on electricity. For example, draw a supply of well water and obtain a backup power source for sump pumps.
  • Have a plan to move yourself and your family (including pets) to another location in case you experience an extended power outage or must evacuate. Be sure to plan for any special needs family members have.
  • Keep an adequate supply of water and food items on hand.
  • Ensure first aid supplies and medicines are readily available.
  • Make sure flashlights are working and readily available. Keep a supply of extra batteries.
  • Have at least one traditional analog phone in your home that does not require electricity to operate. Cordless phones and phones with built-in answering machines will not operate during a power outage.
  • Consider the need for specialty items, such as prescription medication, baby food, warm clothing and a safe alternate heat source.
  • If you have an emergency heat or power source, be sure to read the manufacturer's instructions so you know how to use it properly.

During a storm

  • Monitor TV and radio or public alert devices for important weather updates and news bulletins.
  • If you experience a power outage, call us at 800-450-7240 or report an outage online.
  • If you anticipate an extended outage, consider moving yourself and your family — especially those with special needs — to an alternate location.
  • Check on others who may benefit from your assistance.
  • Don't open freezers and refrigerators more than necessary. Opening these appliances will allow food to thaw more quickly. Learn more about food safety during an outage.
  • Turn off as many appliances, electronics and light switches as possible. This will reduce the potential for damage. After the power is restored, wait 5 to 10 minutes before turning them back on.

After a storm

  • Don't try to cut or remove down trees or branches unless you are absolutely certain power lines are not involved. A licensed tree removal company may be a better option.
  • Replenish your supplies of batteries, bottled water and non-perishable food items. Test storm equipment regularly.
  • Have a licensed electrician disconnect your generator unless the generator has an automatic disconnection device.
  • If the storm leads to an outage, please be patient while we work to restore your power.
  • Understand who is responsible for making repairs before power can be turned back on.

Down power lines

  • Stay away from down or sagging power lines, and do not touch anything that is on or near them (i.e., trees or tree limbs, cars, ladders).
  • Consider all down power lines and anything touching them energized and DANGEROUS! Stay away from them and report the problem to WPS.
  • Keep children and family pets away from areas where lines may have fallen (backyards, fields, school yards, etc.).
  • If a power line falls across a car that you're in, stay in the car and call 911. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire, or other immediate danger, jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.

Portable electric generator safety tips

Reliable electric service is a priority for everyone. However, power outages may occur for various reasons, such as weather, issues with equipment, or vehicle accidents. Portable generators provide significant benefits when used properly.

Here are some safety tips for installing and operating portable electric generators:

  • The portable electric generator should be the correct size, with a slightly larger output than the power level needed to operate all the equipment that is connected to it. The generator and connected equipment can be damaged if an inappropriately sized generator is used.
  • Do not connect a portable generator directly to a building’s wiring or plug the generator into an electrical outlet. This will cause a “backfeed” condition where the power from the generator will flow through the building’s wiring and onto the utility distribution system. This is extremely dangerous to utility line mechanics when repairing downed power lines, as they will be unaware of any “live” wires. In addition, when power is restored, it can feed directly into the portable generator, causing severe damage to the generator and any appliances plugged into it. In order to prevent backfeed or equipment damage when power is restored, have a licensed electrician install a transfer switch to isolate the building wiring from the utility distribution system.
  • Use properly sized and rated power cords to connect equipment to the portable generator. Use heavy duty, outdoor-rated, grounded extension cords that are in good operating condition.
  • Never operate a generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed area. The generator uses an internal combustion engine and emits potentially deadly carbon monoxide. Make sure the generator is vented properly in a well ventilated outdoor area.
  • Never refuel an operating or hot generator. Gasoline spilled on a hot engine could ignite. Always have a fully charged, approved fire extinguisher near the generator.
  • Keep children away from portable generators at all times.
  • Portable generators are a great convenience but, like any piece of equipment, present safety hazards. Be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions completely to ensure your generator is maintained and operated in a safe and proper manner.