Unitil Corporation, (www.unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, will be focusing on public safety and early damage assessment during the overnight hours as the winds subside from Hurricane Sandy.
“We will be restoring power where conditions allow, but our primary focus will be to assist police and fire in maintaining public safety.” Unitil media relations manager Alec O’Meara said. “Once wires down issues are resolved, we will begin transitioning to damage assessment leading up to the formal assessment phase beginning in the morning.”
As of 8 p.m., approximately 32,500 customers are without power spread across all service territories. Of those, approximately 20,200 customers are without power in the NH Seacoast region, 8,700 are out in the New Hampshire Capital region and 3,600 in North-Central Massachusetts. Outage numbers are expected to move up and down throughout the storm due in part to the extended length of the peak wind period. Due to the ongoing storm conditions total impact to the electrical infrastructure will not be known until the damage assessment phase is complete.
Customers who use portable generators during power outages must do so safely. Otherwise, the result could be far worse than the loss of electricity: injury or death to you, someone else or a line worker.
An improperly installed or positioned generator can cause exhaust, containing deadly carbon monoxide, to accumulate in your dwelling. Gas appliances that are not getting a sufficient supply of air can release carbon monoxide, a dangerous gas. Watch for things like yellow flames, flickering flames or soot that might indicate an appliance with a problem. Installing a carbon monoxide detector can help detect this odorless and colorless gas before it becomes a dangerous concern.
Outside of electrical issues, Unitil is also advising its gas customers to be aware of the potential impact flooding could have on individual gas services. 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 basement flooding has impacted natural gas appliances they should not be used until inspected by a qualified heating contractor, plumber or appliance repair representative.
Unitil will be communicating throughout the storm and restoration through Public Service Announcements (PSAs), our website, our customer call center and through the media. We also encourage customers to follow along with our storm updates via our Twitter feed (@Unitil) and will be providing real-time outage information online at www.unitil.com/map.
Customers experiencing outages should call the following toll-free numbers:
- For the NH Seacoast Area: 1-800-582-7276
- For the NH Capital Area: 1-800-852-3339
- For Massachusetts: 1-888-301-7700
You can also report outages online at http://www.unitil.com/report-outage.
In the event of downed wires, assume all cables and wires that have fallen or dangling are energized and stay away. Be sure to avoid wet ground or puddles near a downed lined because water conducts electricity. In addition, keep away from all flooded and debris laden areas because they may be hiding downed lines and avoid anything metal nearby which could potentially conduct electricity. Stay in a safe place and avoid driving in damaged areas so you don’t interfere with rescue and restoration efforts.