Not everyone in Fairfax County depends on Dominion Power. Many homes are hooked up to an electric co-op. The Manassas-based Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative said Tuesday they are ready for the snow that weather forecasters see coming to Northern Virginia on Wednesday.
The co-op serves 26,304 customers in Fairfax County including in Fairfax, Fairfax Station, Clifton, Centreville, Chantilly and a little of Herndon.
Check for outages here: http://stormcenter.novec.com/index.cfm
“All NOVEC and contract crews are prepared to restore electric service if snow-heavy trees and branches fall onto power lines and knock out power,” said Larry Shaffer, vice president, System Operations. “We’ve called in extra contract crews and we’ll have NOVEC employees available to work around the clock starting tonight.”
Cooperative workers have fueled all utility trucks and loaded them with extra equipment. Tree crews have sharpened their chainsaws to be ready to cut trees off power lines. Extra damage assessment personnel will be scouting ahead of crews to help locate fallen trees and branches. And NOVEC’s System Operations Center will have all hands on deck.
“Wet snow is the worst kind for knocking trees down onto power lines,” Shaffer explains. “But we’re ready for it.”
Shaffer warns customers to never go anywhere near a downed power line. “If you see a line that’s down, assume it’s energized and deadly. Keep others far away and report it immediately to us at 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500.”
Prepare for outages
- Shaffer urges customers to make sure NOVEC has their current phone numbers. The Co-op’s system can now accommodate two phone numbers. The correct numbers will expedite outage reporting and power restoration. Customers who use cellphones and have not registered their numbers should call 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500 to associate their numbers with their accounts.
- Charge cellphones. Cordless phones don’t work when power is out.
- Develop a plan for elderly or disabled family members.
- Have an emergency kit with non-perishable food, water, flashlights with fresh batteries, battery-operated radio, lanterns, canned fuel, matches, and first aid. If applicable, have enough prescription drugs, pet food, and baby-care items.
- Stock up on firewood for a wood-burning fireplace or stove. Cover wood with a tarp or stack some in a carport or garage to keep it from being buried by snow.
- Before a storm hits, unplug TVs, DVD/ VCR players, microwave oven, and computers to protect them from power surges that can occur from trees and limbs contacting power lines.
What to do if power goes out
“If a customer loses power, he or she should call NOVEC to report it,” instructs Shaffer. “Customer service representatives may answer the phone, but our automated interactive voice response system works even faster because it sends a message to us immediately that an outage has occurred. The automated system will also provide updates.”
Customers with access to the Internet can report outages at www.novec.com on computers and www.novec.com/mobile on smartphones. They can also use NOVEC’s smartphone application available at http://www.novec.com/contact_us/apps.cfm.
“Customers can follow what’s happening on Facebook and Twitter,” Shaffer notes, “but they must not report outages via social media because those sites aren’t connected to our reporting system. Call us or go online instead.”
- Open freezers and refrigerators only when necessary.
- Open exterior doors only when necessary.
- Run portable generators, camp stoves, or grills only outdoors to avoid carbon-monoxide poisoning. Alternatively, heat food in a chafing dish or fondue pot over canned fuel.