After a severe storm has passed, check the area for downed power lines. If you see one, notify your electric company immediately.
Don't allow anyone to touch or drive over a power line. Always assume a downed line is dangerous - even experienced line mechanics can't tell if a line is energized just by looking at it.
Clearing broken tree branches also calls for extreme caution. Downed or damaged power lines can send electrical currents through tree branches and metal fences, so survey the area carefully - especially if you'll be using a pruning pole, ax or chainsaw.
When the storm has passed and power has been restored, it's safe to plug in and turn on your appliances, but do them one by one, to avoid overloading a circuit.
Steer clear of emergency crews
Utility crews, along with law enforcement and medical teams, need to reach storm sites quickly to prevent further injury and damage.
What may seem like help can actually cause more work – and even additional outages – for our crews to deal with. Curious bystanders and heavy “sightseeing” traffic can seriously hamper efforts to help victims.
In the unlikely event that an Alliant Energy crew member is injured while performing repairs, do not attempt to treat them yourself if they are near downed power lines or heavy equipment. Instead, call 911 immediately.
If you would like to assist with recovery and clean-up efforts, it's best to contact your local Red Cross to see where help is needed most.
Do you need an electrician?
Depending on the damage, there are times it may be necessary to contact a licensed electrician for additional repairs.
By law, power companies can repair only the incoming service line and the meter itself, shown in red on the illustration at right. The devices shown in blue are the responsibility of the homeowner.
Repairs to weatherheads, meter boxes and other hazardous equipment should be done only by a licensed electrician.
DON'T do it yourself
Repairing the electrical service into your residence or building is not a “do-it-yourself” project. Leave all work to trained and licensed electricians.
Attempting repairs yourself is extremely dangerous, with the potential for serious injury and fires. It could also cause expensive damage to utility equipment, as well as your home's electrical system and appliances.
Hiring an electrician
Alliant Energy reminds our customers to be vigilant when selecting a contractor or electrician to repair storm damage.
It's not unusual to be contacted by people offering to repair damage to your home or business. A good rule of thumb is that most reputable contractors will not solicit you to do the work.
- Use resources such as the local telephone book or Alliant Energy's Dealer Locator to find a reputable contractor or electrician to repair damage.
- Always make sure that the workers are fully insured and licensed by your community or state.
- Be sure that they file for and provide the proper permits, if necessary, before making a down payment for the work.
- Never pay for the entire cost of the work before it is done.
- Ask for local references and check the references before paying a down payment.
Unfortunately, the worst disasters attract some people who are looking for a financial gain from others' loss. While most contractors and electricians are dedicated professionals, it's best to be careful when choosing who will do the work for you.