Be prepared: Tips for enduring power outages, severe cold weather

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By Friday, Jan 5 News

Great Barrington — Town Manager Jennifer Tabakin, Police Chief William Walsh and Fire Chief Charles Burger would like to notify community members about the steps to take in the event of a power outage, and offer recommendations for remaining safe during extremely cold weather.

If you lose power, report it to National Grid at 800-465-1212. If you have a natural gas outage, report it to Berkshire Gas at 413-499-1680. Power outages can be viewed through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s statewide tracker.

If residents need assistance contacting National Grid, they are encouraged to call the Great Barrington Police Department at 413-528-0306. In the event the outage is creating an emergency situation, residents should dial 911.

It is important for residents to report outages to National Grid and the Great Barrington Police Department, as every phone call National Grid receives is logged into their outage tracking system and better enables them pinpoint the location of the issue.

The Town of Great Barrington also works closely with National Grid to ensure that locations serving public health needs, the elderly and at risk populations are addressed in a timely manner.

Additionally, if needed, Great Barrington does have plans in place to open an emergency shelter.

“We want residents to rest assured that if there are power outages, we will work directly with National Grid to restore service as quickly as possible,” Police Chief Walsh said. “Please do not hesitate to contact the police department if you need assistance or have any questions or concerns.”

Residents should also be mindful of the possibility of water main breaks, and report them to either Housatonic Water Works at 413-528-1780, the Great Barrington Fire District Water Department at (413) 528-0133 or Great Barrington Police.

Cold Weather

With cold weather expected through the weekend, the Great Barrington Police and Fire Departments advise residents follow important safety tips from MEMA:

  • Minimize outdoor activities for the whole family, including pets.
  • If outside, dress in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing instead of a single heavy layer. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Wear a hat, mittens (not gloves) and sturdy waterproof boots to protect your extremities. Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
  • Be a good neighbor. Check with elderly or disabled relatives and neighbors to ensure their safety.

Additionally, because of the extreme cold, other areas of your home and vehicles may be affected:

  • Increased fire risk due to unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources or people trying to thaw frozen pipes with blowtorches or similar devices.
  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Locate the area of the water pipe that might be frozen. Likely places include pipes running against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Residents should familiarize themselves with the location of their water shut off valves in order to limit the damage caused by leaky or burst pipes.

Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame devices. A blowtorch can make water in a frozen pipe boil and cause the pipe to explode. All open flames in homes present a serious fire danger, as well as a severe risk of exposure to lethal carbon monoxide.

Possible increase in incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources.

  • Ensure you have sufficient heating fuel, as well as alternate emergency heating equipment in case you lose electricity.

When utilizing alternate heating sources, such as an emergency generator, your fireplace, wood stove or space heater, make sure they are properly ventilated and always operate a generator outdoors and away from your home. Improper use of heating devices can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildup in the home.

Possible vehicle failure

Make sure your car is properly winterized. Keep the gas tank at least half-full. Carry a winter emergency car kit including blankets, extra clothing, a flashlight with spare batteries, non-perishable foods, windshield scraper, shovel, sand, tow rope and jumper cables in the trunk.


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