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Preparing for Severe Weather

Overview

Every day, Pepco works hard to provide you with safe, economical and reliable electric service. However, despite our best efforts, occasional power outages are unavoidable. Sometimes the reason for an outage is clear, such as a major thunderstorm. Other times, the reason may not be as readily apparent to our customers. Whatever the cause of a power outage, we understand the inconvenience and hardship that loss of power presents, and greatly appreciate your patience as we work to restore service as quickly as possible.

Important Safety Tips

If you see a downed power line, stay away from it. Assume that all downed power lines are live and extremely dangerous. Don’t touch any person or object that is in contact with a power line; the current could flow through you. Immediately call the emergency service number at 1-877-Pepco-62 (1-877-737-2662) and press two to report downed wires. Call 911 only if there is an associated emergency such as a fire, automobile accident or, if medical assistance is required. Also:

  • Never attempt to remove trees or limbs from any utility line. Assume all objects touching a power line are energized.
  • If you use a portable generator during a power outage, always operate it outside, away from doors and windows to avoid deadly carbon monoxide.
  • If you have a flooded basement in your home, never attempt to turn off power or operate circuit breakers while standing in water.

Plan Ahead for a Storm – What You Can Do Now

Because power outages sometimes happen, planning ahead is essential. Here are some things you can do right now to prepare:

  • Assemble an emergency “storm kit.” Include a battery-powered radio or television, flashlight, a first-aid kit, battery-powered or windup clock, extra batteries, special needs items, an insulated cooler and a list of important and emergency phone numbers.
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of nonperishable foods and bottled water and have a hand-operated can opener available.
  • Make sure you have a telephone with a cord or cell phone to use as a backup. Cordless telephones require electricity to operate, and won’t work if there is an outage.
  • Protect your electronic equipment. Plug computers and other sensitive equipment into surge suppressors, and consider a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for temporary battery backup power.

Know Your Back-Up Plan for Life-Support Equipment

If you or someone you know uses life-support equipment that requires electricity to operate, identify a location with emergency power capabilities and make plans to go there or to a hospital during a prolonged outage. If you have not done so previously, please contact our customer care service center at 202-833-7500 to enroll in our Emergency Medical Equipment Notification Program and ensure that we have a current address and telephone number for the individual with life-support equipment. This will help identify the individual and process their order. Because customers who use life-support equipment are spread throughout all parts of our service area, providing restoration priority to these customers when there are extensive power outages is not possible. However, we understand that information is important and therefore, prior to a major storm or similar event, we will make special efforts to communicate that outages are possible.

It is important that customers who use life-support equipment or their caregivers take responsibility to make arrangements ahead of time to prepare for potentially long-lasting interruptions in service. You may want to ask a relative or friend who has power if you can stay with them. Another option is to research whether or not a portable generator is appropriate for your situation. Customers who experience medical distress due to a power outage should seek medical assistance.

When a Storm Threatens – Stay Safe and Informed

  • Locate your emergency “storm kit” and check your supplies of bottled water and non-perishable food.
  • If a major storm is forecast, make sure you have adequate prescription medicines or infant supplies on hand.
  • Tune in to local news broadcasts.
  • Take cover if recommended.
  • Unplug sensitive electronics and turn off power to flood-prone basement appliances if it is safe to do so. However, if you have an electrically operated sump pump, you should not turn off your power.
  • Fill your bathtub with water if your water supply depends on electricity.

If Your Electricity is Out – Key Steps to Take

Check to see if your neighbors are without power, too. If they have power and you do not, the problem could be a tripped circuit breaker within your own home. If the circuit breaker does not appear to be the problem, call Pepco at
1-877-Pepco-62 (1-877-737-2662) to report your outage.

If you called us once to report an outage affecting your neighborhood or street and everyone’s power seems to be restored except yours, please call us again. That usually means that we repaired the problems affecting your neighborhood or street, but were not aware that a secondary problem existed that affected only your service.

Extensive outages may generate a large volume of customer calls. During these major outages, we supplement our call center staff with employees who have been cross-trained to assist customers. In addition, our High Volume Call Answering System (HVCA) can handle up to 100,000 calls per hour to reduce the incidence of busy signals and hold times. The system works best when we have your information up to date. Please check to make sure your current telephone number is displayed on your Pepco account so that our automated Outage Management System (OMS) system can identify you and record your outage when you call. You can update your information by calling 202-835-1007. Otherwise, during an emergency, you will be asked to stay on the line and provide your telephone number and address to report your outage.

  • Call the emergency service number, 1-877-PEPCO-62 to report downed wires, burning wires, or struck poles.
  • Unplug or turn off all appliances that will come on when the power returns - they may overload our circuits. Leave a lamp switched on so you will know when the power is restored. Then you can turn your appliances back on, one at a time, over a 20-minute period.
  • Keep freezer and refrigerator doors shut; open them only when absolutely necessary. Food will stay frozen for 36 to 48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 hours.
  • Close shades or curtains to keep rooms cooler in warm weather. During the winter, let the sun warm rooms during the day and close shades and curtains at night.
  • If you have a battery-powered laptop computer or if you are at work and your office has power, go to the Special Alert Center for frequent storm restoration updates and to view our outage maps and work location information. During outage events, a link will appear on the home page of www.pepco.com to take you directly to the Special Alert Center.

For more information, check out our brochure:

Weathering the Storm (English)
Weathering the Storm (Spanish)
Weathering the Storm (Chinese)