If and when severe weather hits mid-Missouri, Boone Electric Cooperative employees said they are ready to take action if any customers lose power.
Member services manager Chris Rohlfing said that customers should call the company if they experience an outage, because it helps them pinpoint where the outage began, but encourages customers to be patient if it takes a while to fix.
“We’re not here sleeping,” he said. “We’re working to do everything we can to get them back on as quickly and as safely as possible.”
When there’s an outage, crews will go out to investigate and find out what caused the outage. Sometimes during heavy winds or ice, tree limbs can break power lines and wires.
“A lot of problems come because trees are too close to the power line so we trim the trees and try to cut back all the brush,” said Rohlfing. “We try to make sure that the right of way is clear and that goes a long way in making sure we have a good reliable system.”
Once crews investigate the cause and figure out what’s causing the problem, they have to assess the situation. Rohlfing said they’ll look at what it’s going to take to get everything restored and how it can be done so the linemen are kept safe.
“Then we start sending the hardware we need to get the line restored and get the power back on as quickly as we can to the largest amount of people in the shortest amoutn of time,” he said.
Sometimes broken lines happen despite Boone Electric’s preparations, so Rohlfing recommends anyone who comes across a broken line immediately call 911 and stay far away from it because there could be 7,000 volts of electricity dissipating right into the ground.
Voltage near the source of the fault or broken line will be higher than it is 25 or 30 feet away but if someone steps on two different voltages, and because electricity will always find the path of least resistance, they could be electrocuted immediately.
“Your body acts like a wire hooking up between points that have different voltages,” said Rohlfing. “The voltage all wants to be the same so it will go where it is greater to where it is less. You are the electricity middle man and it can kill you instantly if you step very close it it.”
Experts recommend shuffling your feet if for some reason a broken power line falls in the vicinity of someone’s car and they need to get out of the area as quickly as possible.
If the power goes out and households decide to use a generator, they should make sure its operating in a well-ventilated area and they should use a long extension cord to plug in appliances that they want to run.
“Do not hook it up to the home’s wiring unless you have an approved transfer switch,” said Rohlfing.