UI tracking winter storm, making preparations

The United Illuminating Company, electric subsidiary of UIL Holdings Corporation (NYSE: UIL), is monitoring forecasts and is making preparations in advance of a snowstorm that is expected to bring blizzard-like conditions to the region over the next several days.

The National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Warning for Connecticut and a Winter Storm Watch is in effect for much of New England. Forecasts currently call for snow developing this morning and intensifying later in the day, with periods of heavy snow and gusty winds continuing into Tuesday. There is a possibility of accumulation of up to three feet of snow.

UI has been readying crews and equipment, and has made arrangements with contractors to ensure that adequate resources are available to address any power outages that might occur as a result of the storm.

“We’ve been tracking this storm closely since late last week, and making sure our crews and equipment are ready and appropriately positioned to respond quickly and effectively,” said James P. Torgerson, UIL’s president and chief executive officer. “As always, we are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.”

Company officials also urged customers to be prepared for the possibility of outages, noting that heavy snow could limit access to roadways and complicate outage restoration efforts. Here is some information customers may find helpful.

Stay informed

Sign up for UI’s outage alerts. UI will let you know when we are aware of your power outage, provide an estimated restoration time (when available) and send you confirmation when your service has been restored. Text “REG” to 839-884 to get outage alerts sent to your mobile phone by text message. Or, sign up for your choice of text, phone or e-mail alerts by visiting uinet.com.

Visit the Storm Center on uinet.com to keep track of current outages on our Outage Map and Town Outage List. You can also learn about our process for restoring power on the Restoration Priorities page, get safety information and more.

Report outages and gas emergencies

Always assume downed power lines are live and dangerous, and be mindful of natural gas odors. If you see a downed power line or trees touching power lines, or if you need to report an electrical power outage, or if you smell natural gas, call your utility toll-free with the location and any specifics. Keep these numbers handy and programmed into your mobile phone.

The United Illuminating Company: 800-722-5584 (800-CALL-UI)

Southern Connecticut Gas Company: 800-513-8898

Connecticut Natural Gas Corporation: at 866-924-5325

Berkshire Gas Company: 888-779-8559

Prepare your home

Make sure you have flashlights, candles, matches, a first-aid kit, a battery-operated radio or TV, a manual can-opener and a battery-operated clock. Stock up on fresh batteries, too. Fill containers with drinking water and keep a supply of canned or dried food, as well as any medications you need. (Don’t forget to check expiration dates.)

Charge your mobile phone so you can report outages or emergencies. Store key contacts in your phone’s memory, and keep a paper copy for backup. Check your fire and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure the batteries are in proper working order.

If you lose service

Keep sensitive electronic appliances such as computers, TVs and stereos plugged into a surge protector, or unplug them. They could be damaged if a power surge occurs when electricity is restored.

Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed. For information about food safety, visit www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/refridg_food.html

Never use your stove or oven as a space heater to stay warm. Only use space heaters intended for indoor use inside or in enclosed spaces, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If you are unable to keep your home heated safely and comfortably, call Infoline at 211 in Connecticut or Massachusetts for resources that can help you and your family.

Home generators

Any generator that plugs into a home’s wiring should be connected via a transfer switch by a licensed electrician. This ensures that when the generator is in use, house wiring is isolated from utility lines. Improper installation can damage the generator, or create hazards for utility employees working on poles, or even the general public.

UI leases and installs an affordable automatic transfer switch that safely connects your portable generator to your electric meter to allow you to run your home’s equipment directly from your circuit breaker panel. Call 877-447-8743 or visit uinet.com/shieldandconnect for information.

If adding a natural gas-fired generator, consult your gas utility to ensure there is adequate pressure. Generators should be placed outdoors and away from doors and windows to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide.

Medical equipment

If someone in your home uses electronic life-support or medical-monitoring equipment, develop a backup plan in case an extended power outage occurs. UI has a program to register life-support customers. Call UI at 800-722-5584 for information.

Keep gas meters clear

If you are a natural gas customer, keep any outdoor gas equipment, such as a meter, regulator or piping, clear of snow and ice. Use a broom rather than a shovel to avoid damaging the gas equipment. Also, when conditions are safe, check your roof and gutters to make sure there is no snow or ice buildup that can fall on your gas meter or piping, or block vents.

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