Power outage impacts Helper after storm
|Helper Fire Chief Mike Zamantakis works with a generator to provide electricity for a resident who is on life support during the power outage on Tuesday morning in the western Carbon County town. Many people believe that fire fighters only respond to assist at the scene when something is burning or someone is extremely ill. But the emergency crews serve the public in numerous capacities, including helping out in power outage situations like the one in Helper|
A power outage Tuesday morning that affected almost the entire town of Helper after the snow storm struck caused several minor problems that could have turned dangerous without the quick response from local residents and fire fighters.
The power outage started at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 17 and lasted for about three hours. Electricity was restored at most Helper residences and businesses by 12:30 p.m.
During the outage, businesses had to close and some residents in the city got rather cold.
But more serious was the fact that some people who need oxygen pumps and other life support devices were without the machines for at least a short while and the Helper City Fire Department responded to a number of calls requesting assistance.
"We got 15 to 20 calls from people who were concerned and we had to respond to three houses where people needed assistance," indicated Mike Zamantakis as the Helper fire chief worked with a generator on a truck in front of a residence where help was needed.
Around town, the majority of the residents took the power outage in stride.
A number of motorists driving through town on U.S. Highway 6 pulled into Swift Stop and Shop, but the store was closed due to the disruption. Signs were posted on the gas pumps indicating the power was off, but some people still pulled into the store for fuel.
Power outages can occur for a number of reasons, ranging from a natural disaster to electrical failure.
In addition, Americans at locations across the United States should also be concerned about a terrorist attack that could disrupt utilities, similar to what happened during the Winter Olympics last year when a man let off a bomb in a substation in Salt Lake City.
However, most outages are relatively short in duration as crews from municipal utility systems and Utah Power are quick to repair problems.
Nonetheless, power outages are usually more common than water system failures or gas line disruptions.
|Electrical gas pumps stand idle during Tuesday's power outage in Helper. The disruption followed on the heels of the first measurable snowstorm to settle in Carbon County. Service was restored in most areas of the town by 12:30 p.m.|
Most authorities agree that there are several things Carbon residents should do to prepare for outages.
First, people should keep a flashlight and extra batteries handy.
Most utility companies recommend battery powered lights rather than candles.
Power companies encourage people to turn off electronic devices or appliances during disruptions. This prevents overloading the circuits when the power is turned back on because of the peak that occurs when devices start up.
A light should be left on so residents know when power is restored.
People should use layers of warm clothing instead of lighting fires indoors to avoid potential carbon monoxide poisoning.
Residents should keep refrigerators and freezers closed as much as possible.
If the power is off for more than 12 hours, people should check all food stored in the appliances for signs of spoilage before eating or cooking it.
Residents should avoid venturing outside if it is obvious the outage is due to a power line down near the building.
Shocks can occur even when individuals do not come into direct contact with lines, especially when the weather conditions are wet or stormy.
If a disruption occurs, people should check to determine whether it is overall outage. If neighbors have power, it could mean the building has a problem like a flipped circuit breaker or blown fuse.
It could also mean there is a problem with the circuit.
Residents should pay attention to what was going on before the power went out.
A blown circuit could lead to serious problems, such as a direct short which can cause fires.
"It was good we could help the people who needed it during that time," pointed out Zamantakis. "That's what we're here to do - to help with emergencies when we are needed."