Widespread power outages not expected

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 11, 2011

By Karissa Minn
Duke Energy does not expect widespread power outages in Rowan County because of the winter storm, but crews are on hand in case icy weather causes problems.
Betsy Conway, a Duke Energy spokeswoman, said the company has been planning for this week’s storm for several days.
“This morning when our crews came to work, they packed for several days so that they were ready to respond if need be,” Conway said. “We’ve got all of our trucks fueled up, packed with equipment and gear and ready to roll should anything happen.”
She said the company is tracking the storm. Significant ice could cause problems as it coats power lines and tree limbs.
Though only a thin ice glaze is forecast to accumulate, Duke Energy has line technicians and tree-trimming crews available to deal with any weather-related problems.
Conway said the company had dealt with only a few outages by Monday afternoon. These were related to car accidents, and there may be more when a wintry mix replaces powdery snow.
“If folks have to go out onto the roads, please be safe and drive cautiously,” she said. “If you do see our crews, for your safety and for their safety, please slow down as you pass that work zone.”
Assume that any downed power lines are energized and stay away from them, and do not touch anything near or on them. People can report a line down by calling Duke Energy.
Residents can take steps to prepare for an outage, she said.
“Right now is a great time to go around the house and pull together your emergency supplies if you haven’t already done that,” Conway said. “Grab those blankets and warm clothes and check those flashlight batteries.”
Take out any backup generators or emergency heat sources ahead of time, she said, and read the manual and safety instructions.
The American Red Cross advises people never to use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate the unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
Use flashlights rather than candles during a power outage, the Red Cross recommends, due to the risk of fire when candles are forgotten or placed too close to flammable items.
In the event of an outage, Conway said people should consider checking in with friends, family and neighbors who may need their assistance — especially the elderly.
Residents who lose power are encouraged to alert Duke Energy by calling 800-769-3766. Spanish-speakers can call 866-427-2466.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.