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Utility interruption

Severe weather, fallen trees, and downed power lines can all cause utility interruptions. Follow the steps below to prepare your family and your home for a power outage.

Before a utility interruption

Prepare now

  • Keep a flashlight with extra batteries on each floor of your home.
  • Have a battery-operated clock and radio with extra batteries.
  • Keep a supply of bottled water and easy-to-prepare, non-perishable foods in your shelter-in-place kit.
  • Use surge protectors with appliances like microwaves, televisions, and computers.

If you live with someone with a medical condition, develop a plan to get alternative power or determine another location you can go to if there is a long power outage.

Using dry ice

There are some safety concerns around dry ice but it can be used to preserve frozen foods for longer than 24 hours. If you plan to use dry ice, remember that:

  • Dry ice is dangerous and must be handled with care. It can cause bad burns.
  • Food that touches dry ice can get freezer burns.
  • Dry ice should not be used in a small cooler with food or medicines that you want to use right away, since they could freeze.
  • PECO does not give out dry ice during weather-related events.

If you use a generator:

  • Use it safely and responsibly.
  • Use the manufacturer’s power cords.
  • Do not connect a generator to your home’s wiring.
  • Do not overload a generator.
  • Do not operate a generator in an enclosed space.
  • Turn off all connected equipment before shutting down a generator.

During a utility interruption

Stay safe

  • Try to not use candles. If you do use candles, never leave them burning when you leave the room.
  • Take cover, if necessary.
  • Be aware of trees and downed wires.
  • Do not touch, go near, or try to move downed wires. Consider all downed lines as live and dangerous.
  • Report downed lines to the PECO Energy Emergency Hotline at (800) 841-4141.

If you are in a vehicle and power lines fall on it, stay inside the car until emergency personnel can help you.

Losing phone service

You could lose phone service during a power outage if your phone needs an electrical outlet to work. It’s a good idea to have a phone that does not need electricity, and simply plugs into a phone jack. If you lose phone service, use your cell phone—or borrow one from a friend or neighbor—and call your service provider to report the outage.

If you smell gas:

  • Do not smoke or use lighters or matches. If the odor is strong, do not use your phone or use any light switches or electrical devices. Any spark could cause a fire.
  • Open your windows.
  • Evacuate immediately and call 911.

If there is a power outage:

Call your service provider immediately to report the outage. Call PECO Energy Customer Service at (800) 494-4000. Also remember to:

  • Unplug or turn off all appliances that could turn on automatically when the power comes back on. (If several appliances start up at once, they could overload the circuits.)
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food from going bad. Each time the door is opened, heat enters and speeds up the thawing process.
  • Stay indoors, if possible.
  • Do not burn charcoal indoors and do not use your kitchen stove or oven to heat rooms. These might cause a fire or a hazardous smoke condition.
  • Use a battery-operated radio to listen to news radio for updates.

Water and sewer-related problems

Always have bottled water in the house and in your shelter-in-place kit in case of a water or sewer related problem. If you see water coming up from the ground or road, or think there might be a water main break, call the Philadelphia Water Department at (215) 685-6300. Be ready to provide the following information on the phone:

  • A description of the problem
  • The exact location of the water (street, basement, subway)
  • The exact location of the problem
  • Your name, address, and phone number

If you have no water or very low water pressure, call the Philadelphia Water Department. If there is a concern about drinking water quality, officials will tell you what to do.