If Your Power Goes Off
Confirm your outage by first checking lights and appliances in other rooms. If you still have power in some areas, most likely, a fuse has blown or a circuit breaker has tripped. This could be a warning of overloaded wiring or a defective appliance. If all lights are off, check to see if your neighbors lights are also off. This will help us determine how widespread the outage is.
Call Black Hills Electric at 605-673-4461 or 800-742-0085. Our phones are answered by cooperative personnel 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
Protect your appliances by turning off all large appliances that turn on automatically. Make sure to shut off your water heater, space heaters, air conditioner, water pump, refrigerator and freezer. This will help prevent overloading your electrical circuits when power is restored. Disconnect all sensitive appliances such as VCRs, computers, TVs, microwave ovens, etc., to avoid damage from lightning or a power surge. Turn off any appliances you were operating before the power outage occurred.
If the outage appears to be for an extended period of time, open the freezer and refrigerator as little as possible. Food will stay fresh longer if the doors are not opened. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 48 hours.
If you use a standby generator, be sure it has been installed and wired properly with a double-throw switch. This will prevent electricity from flowing back into the power line and possibly injuring someone.
Plan Ahead and Be Prepared
Always keep an alternate source of light on hand, such as a flashlight with extra batteries, candles with matches, or a camping lamp with appropriate fuel.
Keep emergency food and related items on hand, such as non-perishable foods that require no cooking, canned fruit, powdered milk, peanut butter and crackers. Keep a manual can opener near your emergency food stock along with paper plates and plastic utensils.
An alternate source of heat, such as a wood stove or camping stove, should be available in case of an outage during the cold months. Make sure the heat source you are using is properly vented. Never use a heat source that was not intended to be used indoors. Keep extra clothes, blankets or sleeping bags readily available.
When the Power Comes Back On
When the power first comes back on, turn on only the most essential appliances and wait 10-15 minutes before reconnecting the others.
Check food supplies for signs of spoilage. Don't take a chance on food you are not sure about. It is better to throw it away and be safe than to keep it and be sorry.
Obey the Proximity Law
South Dakota state law states that nothing may be placed within 10 feet in any direction of a power line. That is the distance you should observe when working outdoors with equipment or machinery, such as a crane, forklift, backhoe, dump truck, hay stacker, TV antenna, drilling rig, irrigation pipes, or anything else that could get into a power line. Actual law is below:
South Dakota Codified Law 49-32-11 —
Activities bringing persons or equipment in proximity to high voltage lines prohibited. Violation as misdemeanor.
No person may, individually or through an agent or employee, and no person as an agent or employee of another person, may perform or permit another to perform any function or activity if it is probable that during the performance of such activity any person or any tool, equipment, machinery, or material engaged in performing work connected with such activity, will move to, or be placed in, a position within ten feet of any high voltage overhead electrical line or conductor. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
Source: SL 1973, ch 288, § 2; SL 1983, ch 15, § 130; SL 2002, ch 215, § 1.
Downed Power Lines
We can't avoid downed power lines, but you should! No matter how well your cooperative is prepared, we cannot avoid downed power lines. Hours of freezing rain or strong winds can snap a power pole without warning, leaving an energized line hanging dangerously low or lying on the ground. Snowbound trees can fall, taking several lines down with them. A vehicle could spin out of control into a pole and send a wire to the ground. If you spot a downed power line, stay away from it. Call 673-4461 or 800-742-0085 immediately to report the downed line. Keep others away until cooperative personnel arrive.
Electrical Safety in Your Home
Water and electricity do not mix. Never use your hair dryer, power tools, radio, toaster or any appliance you may have in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, garage, workshop or outdoors near water. Do not use appliances when you are in the bathtub or shower. Look around you, make sure it is safe to go near water.
Child-Proof Your Home
To protect your children, child-proof your home against electric hazards. Outlets should be protected by plastic caps. Make sure electrical cords are not frayed or cracked and keep them out of reach of children. When bathing your child, make sure no electrical appliances are near the tub or unplugged.
Beware of Substations
Never go inside the fence at a substation. A substation is a place where huge amounts of electricity are reduced to a lower voltage and sent along distribution lines. The substation is fenced to prevent someone from getting electrocuted. Teach your children to heed the Danger -- High Voltage warning signs and to stay clear. If a toy or animal gets into the substation, contact the cooperative. We will retrieve it for you.