MISSOULA — This weekend's predicted storm is bringing winter weather earlier than normal -- and making some people scramble to prepare as they try to get their sprinklers blown out on short notice and double check their car tires.
Homeowners aren't the only ones getting ready for the predicted storm. NorthWestern Energy says they are taking extra precautions to prepare for the expected upcoming wet, heavy snow across the state.
Most trees are still fully leafed since its so early in the year-so any snow accumulation could cause them to topple over. That poses an obvious hazard for nearby power lines.
NorthWestern Energy's operation team is preparing equipment, and alerting personnel about possible outages due to the upcoming storm. Spokeswoman JoDee Black, says people can report, and check for outages on their website.
"That helps us identify outages, and the scope of outages. If you see a power line that is down or sagging or damaged, please let us know about that too. And you can call our Montana customer service number."
The number to call is 888-467-6977. Black also reminds people with natural gas heating to keep exposed vents clear of snow.
Winter storm safety tips:
- Non-electric, unvented space heaters can be a hazard. Use them only in well-ventilated areas.
- If you use an electric generator, plug appliances directly into it. Never plug a generator directly into your home's electrical wiring.
- Disconnect or turn off appliances you were using when the power went off. Leave one light on to tell you when service is restored.
- Avoid opening refrigerators or freezers. Food will stay frozen in a fully loaded freezer for 36 to 48 hours if the door is closed. In a half-full freezer, food will keep 24 hours.
- Stock up on non-perishable foods, heating fuel and medications.
- Fill your bathtub and spare containers with water in case your electric water pump or the local water system goes out.
- Have a flashlight, a battery-powered radio and fresh batteries handy.
- Prepare older family members, friends or neighbors who live alone for the weather.
- NorthWestern Energy reminds customers to make sure natural gas meters, as well as furnace and appliance vents, are free from snow and ice. Blocked vents could result in a loss of heat or buildup of deadly carbon monoxide in homes and other structures. Some furnace vents may be located on roofs.
- Safety starts with you, don’t take the risk of going into bad weather.
- NorthWestern Energy posts updates on outages on Facebook and Twitter and on the NorthWestern Energy Outage Map, where you can sign up for text updates on an outage. Use a flashlight. Avoid candles because of the fire risk.
- Never use wet or damp electrical items