What To Do If the Lights Go Out

If your entire house or apartment is without electricity, check the neighborhood to see if there is a power outage. If neighbors’ windows are dark, a call to Willmar Municipal Utilities will help us restore service as quickly as possible. If you have difficulty getting through, we are probably receiving a large volume of calls and may already know about your outage.
If electricity is out in only your house or part of your house, then chances are a fuse has blown or a circuit breaker has shut off because of an overload or a short circuit. To get service again, you’ll need to replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker in your electric switch box by turning it completely off, then on.

Turning Your Electricity On and Off

Main Switch:

Know where your home’s main electric switch is, so you can turn off the electric supply to your entire home quickly in case of emergency.

Fuses:

  • Know where your fuse box or circuit-breaker box is located.
  • Know the correct sizes of any fuses needed in your home and keep spares on hand. Blown fuses must be replaced, not repaired. Do not replace a fuse with one of higher amperage.
  • If a fuse blows, disconnect or turn off the appliance(s) that may have caused the problem.
  • Shut off the main electric switch before replacing a fuse.

Circuit Breakers:

  • Know how to reset a circuit breaker. After turning off or unplugging appliances on the circuit, push the switch firmly to the off position, then back on. If the overloads is cleared, the electricity will come back on.
  • If your circuit breakers trip off repeatedly, there could be a problem with the appliance(s) on that circuit. If the appliances are unplugged but the circuit breaker trips off again, call an electrician.

Lighting Your Home

Good lighting, both inside and outside your home, not only helps avoid accidents but increases your home security, makes household tasks easier and makes it easier for emergency personnel to find your home.

Indoors:

  • Direct lighting over any stairs increases safety. Contrasting colors between the floor and first step will help you see the difference in height.
  • With two-way switches at the top and bottom of stairways, you’ll always be able to turn on the light from either end.

Outdoors:

  • Good lighting on steps and stairways helps prevent slips and falls.
  • Be sure there’s enough light to see who is at your door.
  • Address markers should be well-lighted and visible from the street.

Light Fixtures:

  • When changing light bulbs, never exceed the wattage rating for the fixture. Check for a sticker on the base of the lamp socket.
  • Turn off fixtures and light switches before replacing bulbs. If you aren’t sure whether the lamp is on or off, unplug it first.
  • Use long-life or fluorescent bulbs where access is difficult. Fluorescent bulbs last longest and also save energy.
  • Make sure your kitchen counters and other work areas are well lighted for safety.

Everyday Precautions:

No one can predict natural disasters, but you can reduce the possibility of damage and injury by observing these safety measures.

  • Do not store or use gasoline, paint or other flammable substances in the same area as any gas appliance such as a water heater or other source of flame.
  • Know where the shut-off valves of all your appliances are located, as well as the shut-offs for your household gas and electric services.
  • Do not locate pools and spas under electric lines.

Don’t Become a Victim. Stay Calm.
In an emergency, it’s easy to panic. Loud noises, roaring wind and flashes of lightning can seem terrifying and threatening. But the real danger may be more subtle—a gas leak, or electricity from a severed power line.

Electric appliances and tools

  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIS) in any area where whatever is plugged into them might come into contact with water
  • If a plugged-in appliance falls into water, NEVER pull it out or unplug it, even if it’s turned off, without first turning off the power source at the main electrical panel.
  • On computers and entertainment equipment, use a surge protector that bears the seal of a nationally recognized certification agency. Also plug in your modem to this surge protector.
  • Power tools should not be used in the rain, on wet grass, or in any type of wet conditions. Inspect power tools and electric lawn mowers before each use for frayed cords, broken plugs, and cracked or broken housings.
  • If you use a standby generator, be sure it’s installed and wired properly. Never connect a generator directly to your main electric panel. Without the correct safety mechanisms, power from the generator could flow onto the power line and injure you or a utility line worker.

Cords, plugs, and outlets

  • Make sure extension cords used outdoors are rated for outdoor use. A red UL label indicates that they are suitable for outdoor and indoor use.
  • Discard decorations with worn or frayed electrical cords, damaged plugs, or loose connections.
  • Make sure all unused outlets that are accessible to small children have safety covers.
  • Make sure your plugs fit your outlets. Never remove the ground pin (third prong) to make a three-prong plug fit a two-conductor outlet. This could lead to electric shock.