I-Team: Don’t call 911 when your power goes out

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CLEVELAND – The Fox 8 I-Team has found many people making a common mistake after severe storms and it can delay police handling critical emergencies.

When storms knock out power, as they’ve done this week, local police dispatchers get swamped with calls asking, ‘When will the power come back?’

Some folks call non-emergency lines. Others 911.

Either way, the calls tie up dispatchers busy with emergencies, some of them life-and-death.

Westlake Police Captain Guy Turner said, “Its just an aggravation we could do without.”

He added, “I always ask myself, if your car gets stolen, would you call the power company to ask when it’s gonna be recovered? I don’t think so.”

Of course, if you want to report a power outage or check on repairs, chances are you’ll never speak to a human being. FirstEnergy has an automated phone system to report power outages. And if you want to see how long it’ll be until power problems are fixed, you have to go to a website.

Police point out, they usually don’t get updates on timetables for repairs of electrical lines. So if you’re in the dark, police can’t usually shed much light on the situation for you.

First Energy wants to remind everyone, the number to call to report an outage is 1-888-LIGHTSS. First Energy says that is designed to handle a large volume of calls at once.

To check on outages and the status of repairs, go to www.firstenergycorp.com.

FirstEnergy also says don’t just assume someone else has called in the outage in your neighborhood. In fact, repair priorities are set, in part, based on how many outages have been reported and where.

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