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September is Nat’l Preparedness Month - Get ready for hurricanes, powerful winds and more

Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) urge everyone to be ready in case hurricanes, powerful winds, and thunderstorms cause destruction and power outages. To help Americans prepare, DHS has declared September as National Preparedness Month. Below are some tips.

Last year, from the end of August through September, hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria flooded regions along the Gulf of Mexico, especially in Houston and parts of Florida, caused flooding in Georgia and South Carolina, and ripped through Puerto Rico and some other Caribbean islands.

“Even though Virginia wasn’t in the eye of these storms, Harvey, Irma, and Maria kept NOVEC very busy last year,” says Dan Swingle, NOVEC vice president of Electric Systems Operations. “We prepared for the storms. And after we completely restored service to all NOVEC members who lost power, we sent crews south to help restore power at some other co-ops.”

Swingle notes that record amounts of rain this summer and flooding have caused more power outages than usual as rain-saturated ground and strong winds have caused weak trees to fall on power lines. “We don’t know what weather we’ll have this September, but we’re urging all NOVEC members to please prepare now for inclement weather in the upcoming months.”

Swingle asks NOVEC members to update their home and cellphone numbers—up to two numbers—by calling the Customer Care Center at 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500. “This will allow us to identify the member’s address where there’s a power problem and expedite the restoration process,” Swingle explains.

Be Prepared

NOVEC urges Co-op members to review storm and power-outage information on its “Outage Center” webpage at DHS a.lso provides a wealth of information at Be pr.epared by following these tips from NOVEC and DHS. 

Make and practice an emergency plan

• Sign up for your local governments’s electronic emergency alerts and weather warnings.
• Select an evacuation route and agree on a meeting location, such as a school or library in town or somewhere out of town.
• Plan how your family and friends will communicate if separated. Make paper copies of contact information. Include family members, first responders, doctors, caregivers, schools, utility providers (NOVEC’s numbers are 703-335-0500 or 888-335-0500), and insurance companies. Post numbers on the refrigerator and carry a copy with you.
• Designate a person who lives out-of-state as a central contact. Store at least one emergency contact person under ICE, “in case of emergency,” on mobile phones and devices.
• Hold household meetings to review your plan and make sure everyone knows how to call or send a text message. Agree on what to say, such as, “I’m OK. At library.” • • Make sure children know when and how to call 911 for emergencies.
Save energy to keep mobile phones working
• Save battery power by texting instead of calling. Wait 10 seconds before redialing a number to avoid clogging the network.
• Reduce screen brightness.
• Go to “Settings” and set the phone on airplane mode.

Close apps you do not need.
• Do NOT watch videos or play video games, which drain batteries.
• Have charged batteries, a car phone charger, or solar charger. If you charge your phone in a car, make sure you are not in a closed garage and exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
If mobile phones have lost their charge or the network is down, look for a pay phone. Its service may be less congested than mobile-phone networks.

Create an emergency financial first-aid kit
• Have enough money in an emergency fund to cover six months of expenses.
• Keep some cash on hand because ATM machines do not work when power is out.
• Store important documents—bank and investment statements, wills, powers-of-attorney, passports, etc.—in safe locations, such as a fireproof/waterproof box or safe, or a bank safe-deposit box.

Make sure insurance policies and financial documents are correct and current.

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