The following tips offer advice on preparing and “weathering” a New England storm and its aftermath. We recommend you print a copy of this page and keep it with your emergency supplies.
Be aware of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning from gas appliances. To learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning, click here.
For more information on gas safety, please contact us at 866-933-3820 888-301-7700 866-933-3821.
Hypothermia is a serious medical condition with symptoms that include confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering. It is caused by exposure to the cold, most often, because of inclement weather. If you begin to experience these symptoms seek medical attention:
Several factors contribute to how well your body maintains its normal temperature – air temperature, wind, clothing, intensity of activity and the body’s ability to adapt to compensate for the cold environment.
Here are some tips to prevent hypothermia:
During breaks, drink warm fluids to help your body stay hydrated and maintain a normal temperature. Avoid beverages containing caffeine or alcohol as they hinder the body’s temperature-regulating mechanism. Dehydration is dangerous and, unfortunately, is less noticeable in cooler temperatures.
Portable space heaters can provide comfort during an outage, but need to be treated safely. When buying and installing a small space heater choose thermostatically controlled heaters, since they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room and won’t tax a generator. Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase an oversized heater, as it may be a fire hazard for your home. Place the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic, and be especially careful to keep children and pets away from the heater.
If outages do occur, Unitil personnel will be working around the clock until power is restored. Customers who experience outages should always call our Customer Service Center. These calls assist in identifying the location and nature of problems on the system. For electric outages, call us toll-free phone at 888-301-7700800-852-3339 (Capital region) or 800-582-7276 (Seacoast area).
Unitil will provide updated information on outage restoration efforts on our website as well as to local media and to public officials on a regular basis.
As part of our storm or scheduled outage planning, Unitil makes special efforts to communicate with customers using life-support equipment. This will include a notification to you that we anticipate adverse weather or a scheduled outage which may result in a power outage.
You should have a backup plan prepared to respond to an extended power or service outage. We suggest the following preparations for customers with life sustaining equipment:
Make sure you have contacted Unitil and relayed the type of life-support equipment in your dwelling as well as submitted a completed Physician's Certification Form. Also, whenever there's a change in life-support information, contact Unitil as it happens so that we revise our records appropriately.
During a power outage, customers depending on life support equipment should follow these tips:
Wet electrical wiring is extremely hazardous. If your basement or other enclosed space has standing water, shut off power to all appliances in that location ONLY if you can do so safely. A safety hazard exists when your service panel is either surrounded or affected by standing or running water. Any loose wires should be considered "live" and a definite hazard. Never attempt to remove fuses, switch open circuit breakers or operate switches while standing in water.
Do not use fishing waders, rubber boots or household rubber gloves to insulate you from electricity. These do not provide a sufficient insulation value to protect you from electric shock..
The appropriate jurisdictional inspector must inspect all electrical wiring in buildings that have been partially or fully covered by floodwater before being put into service again. Contact a qualified electrician immediately to respond to the electrical concern with a flooded space.
Unitil advises customers that if you notice a strong gas odor or if there is other evidence of a natural gas leak, leave the area and call Unitil and 911 immediately from a safe place. Don't return until you receive notification from Unitil or your first responder that all is safe.
If the natural gas is shut off at the meter, do not try to turn it back on. Contact Unitil to restore gas service because appliance pilot relights need to occur by Unitil to prevent the build-up of natural gas inside the dwelling.
After a flood, if water levels were high enough to cover the gas meter, call Unitil to check your meter and regulator before using your gas system. Floodwaters may have shifted your home or caused other stresses to the natural gas piping, establishing conditions that favor a gas leak.
If flooding has been severe, natural gas appliances should not be used until inspected by a qualified heating contractor, plumber or appliance repair representative. However, the cost of restoring some appliances to a safe operating condition may exceed the cost of a new appliance.
Do not attempt to place natural gas appliances back in service. A qualified heating contractor, plumber or appliance repair representative will check, clean, repair and pressure test all gas pipes, which may have been clogged with mud or debris.
Damage may also occur to switches, controls, thermostats, furnace heat exchangers, burner and pilot parts and result in rusting metals parts. A qualified heating contractor, plumber or appliance repair representative must perform any reconditioning or repairs to natural gas appliances.
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