City of Columbia says to prepare for extended power outages

10 months 1 week 3 days ago Thursday, January 12 2017 Jan 12, 2017 Thursday, January 12, 2017 4:21:00 PM CST January 12, 2017 in News
By: Jacob Kornhauser, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

COLUMBIA - The following is a message from the City of Columbia regarding preparations for serious winter weather coming to the area this weekend:

The forecast for substantial ice accumulation could lead to tree branches falling on power lines and causing outages. People need to be prepared for an extended outage where they might not be able to leave home.

  • Your power outage kit should contain the following items:
  • People with critical medical equipment are spread all over the city so it is impossible to restore all of these customers first. Instead, medical centers are put at the top of the restoration priority list. People should familiarize themselves with how long the battery back-up system will last. Call your health care provider about the availability of electric power at local clinics and hospitals in case the outage is lengthy.
  • Although the majority of Columbia's electric lines are underground, they are fed at some point by overhead power lines so outages can still occur in these areas.
    • Ready-to-eat food (canned or pouch food, crackers, dried fruits, manual can opener, etc.)
    • Light - battery powered lamps, lanterns, flashlights, etc.  
    • Extra batteries
    • Blankets and warm clothes: bundle up by wearing hats, scarves/masks, long-sleeve shirts, gloves/mittens and several layers of loose-fitting clothing.
    • Keep all electronic devices plugged in so they are fully charged before a power outage hits
    • Radio - battery operated or crank style
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Fuel for heating and cooking. Don't bring outdoor grills into the house.
    • Prescriptions and other medicine
    • First aid kit
    • Bottled water
    • Pet food
    • Baby supplies
    • If you have a generator, only use the generator outdoors and plug appliances directly into the generator

Columbia Water & Light storm preparations

  • All vehicles are fuel tanks are full, chain saws are ready and tire chains are on the trucks.
  • Trucks have been stocked with materials the linemen will need for repairs like cross arms, poles, hardware, etc.
  • Asplundh tree trimming service will have trucks close by for the weekend and will be ready to work.
  • A contractor with the City, Par Electric, will be on standby to help electric line crews.
  • The Missouri Public Utility Alliance has been contacted that there might be a need extra linemen through the mutual aid agreement. Hotel rooms have been reserved for extra staff in case they are called to help. If Columbia does not have any issues, Columbia linemen may volunteer to help other communities.

Reporting Power Outages

  • Go to the electric outage map: outageviewer.gocolumbiamo.com to see if the outage has been reported or call the 24-hour emergency outage number 573-875-2555. If a person has any details about the outage, please call the outage reporting number. Any information that will help our crews isolate the problem will make the restoration process go faster.

Power Outages and Restoration Process


How long will it take to restore power?
Columbia Water & Light sends crews out as soon as possible to fix electric system problems. The time of the repair depends on the problem. Many times it is as easy as replacing a fuse, other times an entire line must be replaced. Crews often have to search for the cause of an outage so you might see them slowly driving down your street or walking the line to find the problem. Please do not disturb the crews while they are working so they can focus on safely solving the problem. The linemen will continue working on a problem until it is resolved.

Who gets their power restored first?
During times of multiple power outages in Columbia, repairs to transmission lines then main distribution line feeders are repaired before feeder lines to individual customers. By prioritizing restoration efforts, the utility can restore power to a greater number of people first. Some customers, like hospitals, are also at the top of the restoration priority list due to the critical nature of their business.

Downed line safety

  • Stay far away from all downed wires.
  • Don't touch anything or anyone that is touching a downed power line.
  • If you suspect that it is a power line, call 573-875-2555, the Columbia Water & Light emergency number. Call 911 immediately if a person is hurt.
  • Stay inside a vehicle if there is an electric wire touching it until help arrives. If you must get out of the car, jump clear without touching the car and the ground at the same time. Shuffle away from the car.
  • Do not remove debris from power lines - assume they are electrified and dangerous. Use extreme caution when inspecting your property. Downed power lines, whether obvious or hidden by debris, have the potential to energize fences and other objects they contact.
  • Respect any electric emergency or work scene and treat it as any other emergency scene. People are urged to keep their distance and allow crews to work without distraction.

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