Electric outages can occur without warning. It’s a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected by checking and inventorying the following items before losing power:
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:
Emergency generators can be a helpful tool by providing electricity during a power outage, and Unitil would like to offer the following information regarding installation so that it can be a safe alternative. Have your generator installed by a licensed electrician qualified to do so, and have the work reviewed by the local municipal wiring inspector. Improperly installed generators can energize lines outside your home believed to be inactive by technicians. The back-up generator should be installed to receive power from either your utility or the generator, but never both at the same time.
Check the operation, adequacy and maintenance (e.g., fuel supply, filter, coolant levels) of your emergency generators and battery systems. To identify potential problems before the time of need, test emergency generation under full-load conditions.
Lastly, it is important to ensure that generators are located outside and have appropriate venting because generators exhaust carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a deadly, silent, odorless gas. Install a carbon monoxide detector in your home and be alert to the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, which are sudden nausea, cherry red lips or headaches. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, leave the area to get fresh air.
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 888-301-7700 800-852-3339 (Capital region) or 800-582-7276 (Seacoast area).
During an event, storms, fallen trees and traffic accidents can damage utility poles and break power lines. A seemingly harmless power line may be electrified even if it doesn’t spark or glow. Stay clear of any lines dangling or fallen from poles and ensure others do as well. Avoid wet ground or puddles near downed lines because water conducts electricity. Stay in a safe place and avoid driving in damaged areas so you don’t interfere with ongoing rescue and restoration efforts.
If you or a family member uses electrically-operated life support systems, we encourage you to notify Unitil in advance of any outages by completing our Physician’s Certification Form. We maintain a list of customers with life sustaining equipment, and as part of our storm preparation procedures and planned maintenance outages, we will include a notification to you in the event that we anticipate adverse weather or a scheduled outage which may result in a power outage.
We suggest the following preparations for customers with life sustaining equipment:
For more information on how to submit your request, visit our Life Support information page.
If the wiring on the outside of your house not serviced by Unitil has been damaged, it may need to be repaired by a third party contractor. During an outage, Unitil is responsible for repairing the overhead electrical lines that run from the utility pole to your residence and for the electric meter. Homeowners are responsible for repairs to other parts of your electrical system, including:
The weather head and insulator at the point where electric lines connect to your residence.
The service entrance cable running from the weather head to the electric meter and from the electric meter to the service panel in your home.
The meter box in which your electric meter is mounted.
The main service panel which includes the fuse boxes and/or circuit breakers for the electric service in your home.
In hiring a contractor for post-storm services, we recommend homeowners get at least three separate quotes,check references from previous customers and ask how long each contractor has been in business. Once the repairs have been made to your home, please call our customer service center so we can issue an order to reconnect your service to our power lines.
What are the most common causes of power outages?
There are many reasons why there is a loss of power, but the most common cause is Mother Nature. That includes everything from animals to severe weather events such as high winds, lightning, rain, ice and snow. Such weather can bring down trees and power lines and damage poles and other electric equipment. Other causes for power outages include vehicles striking utility poles or equipment failure. These outages can last a few seconds or a few days. Unitil is committed to restoring them as quickly and safely as possible.
What might cause a delay in restoring my power?
Sometimes obstacles blocking access to our power lines can slow the restoration process. That could include downed trees, blocked roads, unplowed or flooded streets or dangerous situations. Conditions throughout the system can also cause delays. Several small scattered outages can be more time consuming to repair because they involve individual stops to reconnect lines to each home.
Why do my neighbors sometimes have power and I don’t?
It could be that your neighbors are served on a different circuit, but there could be trouble in just your section of the line or in the equipment that services you directly. Or, the cause of the outage could be an individual service problem at your home, unrelated to Unitil.
Why did a service truck go through my neighborhood without stopping to restore my power? Will the truck come back?
Yes, it will come back. Although your restoration is important to us, sometimes there are more urgent priorities that need to be addressed, such as public safety hazards, critical care, emergency operations centers and communication centers.
The truck may also be on the way to a transmission line, substation or circuit outage that will restore the greatest number of customers at the same time, you included. Our crews work round the clock during an outage, so they will return to your location as soon as they can if you remain without power