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Be prepared for disasters

     Our communities are occasionally at risk for natural disasters such as tornadoes, snow and ice storms. These types of disasters pose a significant threat to our homes and electrical equipment. The most important step you can take to keep you and your family safe is to prepare beforehand, but knowing what to do during and after the event is crucial as well.

     Here are several general guidelines to keep in mind as you prepare:

     Water: You will need one gallon per person per day. If you assume your family of four may be stranded for a week, store a minimum of 28 gallons.

     Food: Stock up on non-perishable or long shelf-life items, such as wheat, soybeans, canned fruits, peanut butter, jelly and condensed soups.

     First Aid Kit: Make sure your kit includes adhesive bandages (assorted sizes), antiseptic wipes, aspirin, hydrocortisone ointment, scissors and a thermometer. For a full list of suggested items, visit

     Flashlights and candles: Be sure to keep extra batteries and matches (in a waterproof container) on hand.

     For additional guidance on emergency items to keep around the house, visit Also consider training offered by local emergency management services such as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes.

     Some disasters occur suddenly, but others, like winter storms, bring advance warnings. Pay special attention during the days leading up to the event for local and state government warnings. Make sure every family member knows what your emergency plan is: staying or leaving, safe rooms in the house, where supplies are located, what to do if anyone is separated, and how to notify loved ones that you’re safe after the event. It’s also a good idea to know where your home’s main water and gas shutoff valves are located.

     “Gibson Electric Membership Corporation spends significant dollars each year to improve the resiliency and durability of our distribution system, but you may lose power during a storm,” VP of Engineering and Operations Barry Smith says. The outage could be momentary, last hours or even days. Consider purchasing a backup generator for your home. These can cost anywhere from a few hundred to few thousand dollars, depending on your needs. Be sure to have a licensed electrician properly install the generator for your safety and for the safety of our line workers and test the generator before the disaster to ensure it’s operating properly. 

     If you don’t have a backup generator and lose power, don’t panic. Most power outages are short and will not last more than a few hours.

     “After the storm, be cautious when leaving your home,” Smith says. “Listen to government warnings and use caution when approaching any damaged buildings or fallen trees. If you see a power line that is down, always assume the wires are live and dangerous. If possible, call Gibson EMC to report the downed power line.”

     Planning ahead will help you weather a disaster more safely. For more information on disaster preparedness, visit

Energy tips for dealing with disaster

• If you are anticipating an outage, pack frozen foods close together and consider freezing water bottles to eliminate any air pockets. The frozen water will help keep the food cooler longer. During an outage, leave freezer and refrigerator doors closed.

• Make sure you have alternative lighting sources, like candles and flashlights (with spare batteries) located throughout the home.

• Keep manual tools such as a can opener on hand to replace any electronic gadgets you typically use. 

• Similar to filling a bathtub with water before a storm, make sure that all cell phones are fully charged.

• If the disaster involves lightning, unplug all electronic devices to protect against a power surge. Gibson EMC’s Surge Alert program can also help you protect your equipment. Visit our or call your local office for more information.

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