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CLEVELAND (WJW)– The winter storm in Northeast Ohio is bringing freezing rain and ice.

Ice storms and heavy snowfall can knock down trees and utility poles, creating power outages and other dangerous situations.

FirstEnergy said its response plan includes staffing additional dispatchers and damage assessors, as well as line and substation personnel. The company also notified its contractors.

“While we invest in our electric system throughout the year to enhance service reliability for customers, significant accumulations of ice and snow have the potential to cause power outages,” said Sam Belcher, senior vice president of FirstEnergy and president of FirstEnergy Utilities, in a news release on Tuesday. “We understand the challenges of being without power, especially this time of year, and we are taking every step to ensure our crews are prepared to restore electric service to customers impacted by the storm as quickly and safely as possible.” 

Preparing for the storm:

The American Red Cross offers an extensive guide to preparing your home, vehicle and family for a winter storm. The organization emphasized the following:

  • Check and replenish your emergency kit. It should include water, nonperishable food, flashlight, extra batteries and medications. The entire list here.
  • Be prepared to evacuate if you lose power or heat.
  • If you have alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces, wood- or coal-burning stoves, or space heaters, be sure they are clean and in working order.
  • Bring your companion animals inside.

Safety tips for downed power lines:

Touching a power line can cause series injury or death. FirstEnergy said you can’t tell by looking at a line if it is live. The company said to always assume a downed line is carrying electricity. Here are a few other tips from FirstEnergy:

  • Stay at least 30 feet away from any downed power line, and don’t go near the pole or anything touching the line. 
  • Call 911 immediately if a power line is down. This does not mean you should call 911 for a power outage. Just because your power is out doesn’t mean there is a line down.
  • Warn others to stay at least 30 feet away from the line until help arrives. Keep pets away, too.
  • If a downed line is near water, even a small puddle, keep well away.
  • Be careful not to stand under damaged tree limbs or power lines. Tree limbs can become weakened during a storm but not fall until several hours or days later. The same can be true for damaged power lines or poles.
  • Don’t drive or walk over downed power lines.
  • If a wire falls on a vehicle, passengers should stay inside the vehicle until help arrives.
  • Downed power lines that come in contact with a vehicle create a dangerous situation. Do not touch the vehicle. Call 911 immediately to report it.

Reporting a power outage:

AEP Ohio

You can report a power outage or safety hazard, such as downed wires or poles, or trees on power lines, on its website. You can also call 800-672-2231 for help.

Cleveland Public Power

CPP has an online form to report power outages. You can also call 216-664-3156 for power outages and 216-664-4600 for other customer service.

FirstEnergy

Outages can be reported online here. For hazardous situations, call 1-88-544-4877 immediately.