After two nights of hazardous thunderstorms sweeping through Michigan, multiple tornados and at least five deaths have been confirmed. The severe weather led to widespread power outages, flooding on freeways and in neighborhoods as well as property damage.
Friday morning, more than 430,000 customers of DTE Energy and Consumers Energy reported power outages − DTE's outage map showed over 250,000 customers without power, while Consumers Energy's map showed over 180,000 customers affected.
By Friday afternoon, Consumer's Energy's outage numbers began decreasing. As of 3 p.m., over 169,00 Consumers Energy customers remain without power, according to the outage map. However, DTE Energy's outage map shows little to no improvement in power restoration.
Both utility companies anticipate that most customers will have their restored by late Saturday and Sunday. In the meantime, here are some tips on how stay safe and informed during a power outage and flooding:
What can you do?
Turn off and unplug any major appliances, electronics and lights, to prevent electrical surges when power is restored.
Use flashlights instead of candles to avoid fire hazards.
If you have a generator, only use it outside. Never run a generator inside of the house.
Stock up on non-perishable food, bottled water, batteries for flashlights and other necessities.
Keep refrigerators and freezers closed. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service advises that a closed refrigerator can keep food cold for about four hours, while a half-full freezer can keep food cold for around 24 hours (48 hours if the freezer is full).
If power outages last longer than four hours, get ice or dry ice to keep food cold. Fifty pounds of dry ice, the Food and Drug Administration says, should hold an 18-cubic-foot freezer for two days. You could also transfer refrigerated food to a cooler and fill it with ice or frozen gel packs. Ensure there's enough ice to keep the cooler's contents at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, replenishing as it melts.
Stay 25 feet away from any downed wires.
Avoid getting in or near floodwaters, both in the streets and inside your home. The water may contain dangerous bacteria, sewage, oils and debris.
If your home experienced flooding, wear rubber boots designated for cleanup, rubber gloves, goggles and other protective equipment before inspecting the damage and cleaning up. If you do come in contact with floodwater, make sure to wash up after.
Many traffic stops go out during power outages. If you come across a dark traffic signal, operate as if it was a four-way stop.
Be careful while driving. Hydroplaning is a hazardous driving phenomenon where a vehicle's tires lose traction on wet roads, leading to temporary loss of control over steering, braking, and acceleration. To prevent hydroplaning, drivers should slow down in wet conditions, maintain proper tire inflation and avoid sudden movements on wet surfaces.
If you hydroplane, avoid braking abruptly. Lift your foot off the gas, steer steadily and apply brakes gently and steadily if necessary. Avoid using cruise control on wet roads; turn it off promptly if hydroplaning starts. Control your speed manually for better safety and control.
Stay updated on weather and road conditions using battery-powered radios or other devices.
Michigan power outage map: How to check your status
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: What to do during a power outage, severe flooding