Power Outage FAQs
What causes blinks?
Power interruptions that were unnoticed years ago are noticed today by the many electric devices all around us. Before digital clocks, we never noticed many power interruptions. Now these aggravating events seem to happen more often. In reality, they are not more frequent, you are just more aware of them.
It might surprise you to know that some power quality problems begin in the home or business. A spike (transient surge) may occur in the building's wiring when electric motors, like those on the refrigerator and air conditioner, start up. Other problems may come from faulty wiring, loose connections, poor grounding and/or inadequate wire size. These conditions can cause partial power, momentary interruptions (blinks), dimming and/or bright lights.
Most times, having the power interruption is better than the alternative — having it go out completely. Power interruptions are most often caused by exterior devices installed by Polk-Burnett to protect the electrical system. These devices are called reclosers. Reclosers essentially act like the circuit breakers in your home, with one major difference — they reset themselves after breaking the circuit. The intent is that a tree touching the line or other problem will cause the recloser to open. The device will reset itself and power will once again flow down the line. If the problem has cleared the line, power will stay on. If the problem still exists, the recloser will operate again. After trying three times, most reclosers are designed to stay open until the problem is fixed and the device is manually re-set. The opening and closing of the recloser is almost instantaneous and is often not even noticed, except by electronic devices such as digital clocks. The alternative to using a recloser is to use fuses on each line. While greater use of fuses would result in fewer power interruptions, it would also create more outages, as a fuse can only operate once.
Polk-Burnett is continually evaluating our power lines to identify potential problems so blinks and outages can be avoided. While we will never be able to prevent all blinks, please let us know if your home or business experiences an excessive number of power interruptions or other power problems, so that we may investigate the issue to better serve you.
Does Polk-Burnett automatically know when I have lost electric service?
Advanced meters can send outage information in addition to recording your energy use. However, we ask that you continue to call Polk-Burnett when you are experiencing a power outage and do not assume that it has already been reported. With both the advanced meters and your help, Polk-Burnett’s line crew can quickly pinpoint the areas affected by the outage and get your power back on as soon as possible.
What can I do to help get my power back on quickly?
- First, check your fuses or circuit breakers, making sure that they have not blown or tripped. If your meter is located away from the house, be sure to check the fuses or breakers below the meter. If Polk-Burnett responds to an outage and the trouble is with your electric service, you may be charged for a service call.
- If you are still without power, it is helpful if you check with your neighbors to see if they have power.
- Call Polk-Burnett to report the outage, 800-421-0283. Phones are answered 24/7. Have your account/location number ready when calling and let us know if you have seen or heard anything which may have caused the outage, such as sparks, loud noises or trees and limbs on the power lines. This will help our field crews find the problem quickly to get your power restored.
- Keep away from downed power lines and power poles. Do not cut or clear trees and branches near power lines. Report these hazards to Polk-Burnett immediately, 800-421-0283.
How do you decide whose power to restore first? (Click to enlarge chart below)
The outage restoration process begins at the substation where power is supplied into Polk-Burnett's system. After these repairs have been made, crews work on lines serving the greatest number of members until electricity is restored to all main lines. Then, crews begin repairing lines to individual members.
Why would a Polk-Burnett service crew pass by without restoring the power at my house?
Our number one goal is restoring power to as many members as quickly and safely as possible, while making the most efficient use of line crews. If you see a Polk-Burnett service crew pass by without stopping, it can be for various reasons:
- Crews may be working to restore main lines.
- They may be responding to an emergency, such as power lines down a road.
- They may need to go past your location to access lines and substations serving your area.
Why does my neighbor have power and I do not?
It depends upon the cause and location of the problem. Remember to check and make sure your power is not out because of an electrical problem inside your home, such as a tripped breaker or blown fuse. If your neighbor has electricity and you do not, more than likely, your neighbor's home is on a different line.
What about customers with special medical needs?
Polk-Burnett maintains a critical care list. This documentation identifies members that have special medical or protective service emergency needs. Following severe thunder, wind, snow or ice storms, it's important to remember damage to Polk-Burnett's distribution system may be extreme. In some case, it can take many hours or even days to complete repairs. In case of severe storms, customers who must have electricity should be prepared with an emergency backup plan. The plan could include arrangements to move to an alternative location, use a portable generator or install battery backup on important electrical devices. Please notify Polk-Burnett if you have a critical need for electricity. Call 800-421-0283 or apply online.
Why can't you tell me how long it will take to restore my power?
Each outage is a result of different circumstances. During the process of restoring power, our crews encounter many factors that affect the time it takes to find the problem and make the necessary repairs. Please call Polk-Burnett at 800-421-0283 for the most up-to-date information.
What should I do if a power line falls in my yard?
Consider all fallen wires to be energized and dangerous. Make sure children, pets and neighbors stay away from the power line and any object(s) it may be touching. Report the fallen power line to Polk-Burnett immediately, 800-421-0283.
How should I prepare for outages?
- Organize a survival kit that includes a hard-wired phone, cell phone, battery-powered radio, clock or watch, flashlight, extra batteries, tap or bottled water, nonperishable food, manual can opener, first-aid supplies, medicines, matches or lighter, candles and a fire extinguisher. Store the kit in a designated place so it's easy to find.
- Notify your electric co-op in advance if you require electricity to operate lifesaving medical equipment.
- Protect valuable electronics and appliances with surge suppression devices and uninterrupted power supply (UPS) systems.
- Have a plan for loss of power on your farm or business; prior to installing a generator, contact your co-op for safety and installation information.
How do I protect appliances in my house?
A lightning strike or downed power line can send a surge of electricity through your home, potentially damaging appliances and electronics. Computers, TVs and other equipment are expensive investments that are worthy of protecting from storm-related damage. Surge protectors provide a defense against power spikes and surges. For information about surge devices contact member services, 800-421-0283, ext. 595.
If power goes out, do I need to throw out all the food in my refrigerator and freezer?
To minimize the loss of food during a power outage, limit the number of times you open your refrigerator or freezer door. If the door remains closed, refrigerated food can stay cool for about six hours; frozen food can remain safe for two days.
Is a generator safe to use when I lose power?
A generator can be a wonderful tool during an outage, especially in helping to keep your food fresh and water available. But, it can also be extremely dangerous if used improperly. Be aware that it's against the law and a violation of electrical codes to connect a generator to your home's electrical circuits without a generator transfer switch automatic-interrupt device. Without a transfer switch, a generator can become a major fire hazard if its online when electrical service is restored by Polk-Burnett. In addition, improper connection of a generator to your home's electrical circuits endangers service crews working to restore power in your area. Connecting an extension cord from your neighbor's home to your electrical system will have the same effect as a running generator.