September 26, 2023

SMECO: Be Prepared for Power Outages


Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative strives to keep the power on for every home and business in the community. But the region has had its share of hurricanes and ice storms, and sometimes, these weather conditions can cause customers to lose power.

Although SMECO works as quickly as possible to get the lights back on, there are some steps to take before, during, and after an outage. The key is being prepared. Be sure to plan for these fundamental needs.

SMECO’s outage restoration policy is to make repairs that will restore service to the most people in the least amount of time.

Preparing for an Outage:

  • If someone in your household depends on electricity to operate a life support system, plan ahead for alternate sources of power or lodging.
  • Have an alternate source of light: keep flashlights and extra batteries where they can be found easily. Lanterns and candles are not recommended because they can cause fires.
  • Keep a battery-powered radio with fresh batteries, and stay tuned to local news bulletins and weather reports.
  • Stock emergency food and related items. Ideal choices are nonperishable foods that do not need cooking, such as canned fruit, canned milk, peanut butter, crackers, cereals and cereal bars, canned soup, and canned tuna. Stocking up on refrigerated or frozen foods may not be a good idea if the power goes out.
  • Keep a manual can opener handy, along with disposable plates and utensils.
  • Keep your grill available year-round for cooking during an outage. (Always use a gas or charcoal grill outside.)
  • Store extra water in clean jugs, bathtubs, laundry tubs, or other containers if you know a storm is on the way.
  • Plan an alternate source of heat in the event of a cold-weather crisis. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, keep adequate kindling and firewood on hand. Have extra clothing, blankets, or sleeping bags available.
  • Keep fresh batteries in your smoke detectors.
  • Keep your automobile’s gas tank full.
  • Maintain a supply of cash. Credit cards and ATM machines may not work if the power is out.
  • If you have livestock, you will need a means of obtaining adequate supplies of fresh water. A generator is recommended.
  • It is helpful to have a corded phone available: cordless phones will not work without electricity. If you have a cell phone, you may need an auto adapter to recharge it.

During an Outage:

  • Leave the freezer and refrigerator closed so food will stay cold longer.
  • Use stored water to flush a toilet, then pour water into the toilet tank (not the bowl) before flushing again. Turn off the water supply to the toilet before flushing.
  • Toilet tanks hold several gallons of water, so plan accordingly.
  • Remember, melted snow or ice can be a source of water during winter outages (but not for drinking).
  • During the summer, you may be able to use water from a pool or hot tub.
  • Make sure the oven and stove are off; this will prevent fires if the power comes back on while you’re away. Do not set dishes, towels, or paper on the stove; these may catch on fire if a burner is on when the power comes on.
  • Turn off your heating system to prevent electric demand from jumping suddenly. After your power is restored, wait 15 minutes before turning on your heating.
  • Place your portable generator outside, never in the house, garage, attic, crawl space, or basement. Make sure your generator is connected safely; an improperly connected generator can cause serious injury or death. When your power comes back on, turn off and disconnect your generator.

Never touch downed power lines or attempt to remove trees from power lines. Contact with live lines may result in serious injury or death. Let qualified SMECO crews handle the clearing and repair work. Report downed power lines to SMECO at 1-888-440-3311.

Call SMECO’s Outage Hotline at 1-877-74-SMECO or 1-877-747-6326.

Watch a 2-minute video on steps you can take to prepare for a power outage.

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative is a customer-owned electric cooperative providing electricity to more than 150,000 services in southern Prince George’s County, Charles County, St. Mary’s County, and Calvert County.

To learn more about SMECO, visit its Leader member page. Visit SMECO on their Facebook Page and Twitter.

Leave A Comment