Downed power lines pose risk during winter storm - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Downed power lines pose risk during winter storm

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Ten of thousands of people in the Kansas City area woke up without power Tuesday as heavy, wet snow has caused extensive power outages and downed power lines throughout the metro.

As of 8:30 a.m. about 44,000 KCP&L customers in Kansas City, MO, are currently without power. KCP&L has called in additional personnel and are progressing through restoration.

Westar Energy is responding to about 3,400 outages in Johnson, Wyandotte, Leavenworth and Douglas counties in Kansas. Kansas City Board of Public Utilities is reporting about 9,000 people without power.

According to the Winter Storm Warning, there is potential for 6-12 inches of snow accumulation with even higher amounts possible.

Because of the higher temperatures, the snow is very moist and heavy, resulting in accumulation on trees and power lines and causing them to sag.

During the storm, electric company officials warn the public to follow some safety tips:

  • If you find a downed power line, stay away and keep others away as well. Call KCP&L toll-free at 1-888-LIGHT-KC (1-888-544-4852) or your local utility to report it.
  • Observe downed wires from a safe distance, at least 10 feet away.
  • Be aware - lines that are down and known to be dead can become re-energized.
  • You may not be able to tell the difference between a telephone line, television cable line or an electrical line. Consider all of them as being energized, stay away and call for help.
  • Be watchful for fallen lines that have contacted metal fences, backyard gym sets and other structures. If a power line has come down on a metal fence, even a connecting fence several yards away can be energized. The slightest touch can injure or even kill.
  • If a person or object is in contact with a power line, don't touch the person, object or line. The electric current could flow through you. Call 911 and KCP&L immediately (1-888-LIGHT-KC; 1-888-544-4852).
  • If a power line falls on your vehicle, stay in your vehicle. Use your cell phone to call for help or wait for help to arrive. Never move downed wires blocking vehicle access and don't drive across downed wires.
  • If you must leave your vehicle, jump clear to avoid being in contact with the car and the ground at the same time and then move slowly away from the car shuffling your feet to keep them both in contact with the ground at all times.
  • Before removing tree debris, carefully check the debris and surrounding ground for downed wires. Look overhead for dangling or low power lines. Report downed wires or other dangerous conditions to us immediately by calling toll-free 1-888-LIGHT-KC (1-888-544-4852).
  • Stay away from flooded areas if water is in contact with electrical outlets, appliances, lamps or power cords. Not even rubber boots can guarantee protection from severe shock in this situation.

For those without power and using a portable generator to run lights, a refrigerator, sump pump, furnace blower or other essential items until your power is back on, firefighters also offer a few tips.

  • Carefully follow all manufacturers' instructions for installation and operation.
  • Always operate generators outdoors to avoid the buildup of deadly carbon monoxide fumes.
  • Never connect to your home's main electrical panel or plug it directly into a household outlet.
  • Home appliances not permanently wired to the electrical system can be powered directly from the generator through a heavy-duty UL rated extension cord (less than 100 feet to prevent power loss and overheating).
  • Your best option is to have a qualified electrician install a special safety transfer switch required by the National Electric Code. The switch prevents the generator from back-feeding electricity into the power lines and possibly causing injury or death to unsuspecting workers trying to restore power.
  • Stand in a dry place and have dry hands when operating a generator.

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