Staying at Home? Tips to Prepare for Power Outages Due to Monday's Storm

Wind damage to trees and limbs will inevitably down power lines and poles in some communities, knocking out power to our home sanctuaries, home offices and remote learning classrooms

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The same storm that produced deadly tornadoes across the southeast United States delivers damaging wind to New England on Monday – but just how bad will it be, and what does it mean for our new, COVID-19, #StayAtHome lives?

The expected rain all day, although making for slippery roads, has a much lesser impact than it might if New Englanders were in the midst of a heavy Monday commute.

Instead, far and away, the wind will have the biggest impact, as wind damage to trees and limbs will inevitably down power lines and poles in some communities, knocking out power to our home sanctuaries, home offices and remote learning classrooms.

The impact becomes more significant, however, when considering those on medical devices at home in this coronavirus pandemic and considering the length of outages we may endure if expected gusts of up to and perhaps exceeding 70 mph in some spots transpires.

For those who have patients at home on life-sustaining medical devices, it’s important to call and register with your utility company – they keep records of what homes have critical medical devices and it can certainly play a role in restoration, so be sure to do that this morning, before outages start popping up this afternoon into the evening.

The worst time of wind will be focused from noon to 6 p.m., though at least some damage is expected through 8 p.m. before the wind drops below damaging levels.

Of course, in all major New England wind events we remind you to charge the phone, have flashlights at the ready and be sure to have our New England stash of batteries at hand.

This time, given the COVID-19 social distancing that has made our home our one and only headquarters, some additional tips can be helpful, and I offered these on our NBC10 Boston and NECN morning weather broadcasts. In case you missed them:

• As mentioned above, register with your utility company this morning if you are operating life-sustaining medical equipment in the home.
• Be prepared for outages to last awhile – more than a day for some, particularly in rural communities. Consider interior Maine saw heavy snow Thursday evening and as of this morning – Monday morning – 24,000 customers were still without power. Restoring power, particularly during this COVID pandemic, can take time.
• Remote learning: Focus on downloading as many assignments as possible – and completing as many as possible – Monday morning. Once power starts going out, some towns will lose power for only hours, others for a day or two... and some not at all – but it’s already been an adjustment to remote learning for students, teachers and parents alike, so having the assignments downloaded and, ideally, completed as best as possible before losing power will help.
• Keep the phone, tablet, laptop and other devices charged: Rather than unplugging them and carrying them through the house Monday, keep the devices plugged into the charger so that, should power go out, at least you’re starting from 100% battery.
• Secure lightweight objects around the yard: This is a common one we mention, but after some nice days recently, keep in mind that lightweight chairs, Easter decorations and the like can be tossed around or destroyed in this kind of wind.
• Lose Power? Ventilate that generator! Remember the dangers of carbon monoxide and be sure generator exhaust is safely going outside, not inside.
• Helping Neighbors? Maintain social distancing: We are New Englanders – when a limb or tree comes down in the neighbor’s yard and we’re the ones with the chainsaw, we help. In doing so, keep in mind the pandemic and maintain proper social distancing and remember your mask.

The good news is by Monday at 8 p.m., the damage should be subsiding as the wind begins to slowly quiet, skies will clear overnight, and while Tuesday looks breezy, it’ll be a pleasant, refreshing spring breeze, allowing for cleanup and power restoration.

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