Winter is Coming

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As we look toward the winter months it may be time to start preparing your family for the upcoming winter weather. Although Rolling Hills Electric Cooperative works hard to keep our members’ power on all winter long, winter storms can sometimes have devastating results to the area — leaving your family without power for an extended period of time. 

Stay aware. Stay prepared. Know the difference between watches and warnings. 

A winter storm watch means stormy conditions, including heavy snow, freezing rain or sleet are likely within the next few days. You should be aware that this means adverse conditions could begin within 12-48 hours. 

A winter storm warning means conditions can become adverse within the next 24 hours. Those in the range of the warning should be aware of impeding conditions and consider altering plans to travel. 

A blizzard warning means an affected area should seek refuge immediately due to high levels of snow, strong winds and near-zero visibility to those traveling. 

Do you have an emergency preparedness kit for winter weather? Your family should be aware of the kit location and contents. Here are some items that may keep your family safe during a winter storm. 

  • Drinking water and food (peanut butter or canned goods).
  • Blankets, pillows and extra clothing.
  • Basic first-aid supplies.
  • Medications.
  • Basic toiletries. 
  • Flashlights and batteries.
  • Battery-operated radio.
  • Extra supply of batteries.
  • Cellphone with portable charger.
  • Cash and/or credit cards.
  • Important documents and identification. 
  • Basic tools (duct tape, wrench, screwdriver, etc.).
  • Toys, books and games. 
  • Baby or pet supplies.

Another way to prepare for winter is to think about a standby or backup generator. If your household requires medical or life support devices, you require power to house or feed livestock, or perhaps you have temperature sensitive materials on your farm, you might consider purchasing a generator for your home. Generators can be an important tool year-round. 

There are two types of generators for homeowners to choose from: portable and standby. A portable generator is usually gas powered and can be moved around. You can power your home by plugging appliances into it. Standby generators are installed directly to the house and are typically powered by natural gas or propane. These generators start automatically when the power goes out.

Begin by identifying your basic electrical needs in the event of a power outage and calculating the number of watts needed. You will want a generator that produces more power than all the equipment combined plus the initial surge when it is turned on. 

You may want to contact the cooperative to determine your needed power usage. Your needs will determine the type and wattage that makes the most sense. 

Typically the recommended size is greater than 6,500 watts because there is less sensitivity to voltage fluctuation and more control. However, generators of 8,500 to 10,000 watts are best (8,500 being minimum). 

One important aspect of a generator is a transfer switch. This is often an extra charge to install and connects the generator to your circuit box. The switch also eliminates cumbersome extension cords and protects the generator and appliances once power is restored. The transfer switch is also key for safety and will keep linemen safe while working on power lines.