Emergency Response & Planning

The BWL is always looking ahead to be prepared for any kind of emergency that comes to the greater Lansing region. Restoring your utilities quickly and safely is one of our top priorities.

Emergency Efforts

Mitigation

We can all play a part when it comes to mitigating circumstances that may pose a potential risk. As customers, your awareness and ability to report problems in our service area are critical to a quick response to – or possibly preventing – a crisis.

Vegetation Management

Trimming trees is another way to prevent power outages, which can bring down power lines during strong winds. Our tree trimming program has reduced the number of tree-involved incidents within our service area. If you’re planning to trim trees near any power lines, we urge you to consult a professional tree-trimming service. Pole-to-pole overhead power lines carry high-voltage electricity that can seriously or fatally injure you.

Learn more about Tree Trimming

Preparedness

Here are some tips on how you can prepare yourself and your family for any potential utility disruptions:

  • Battery Backup Systems: Ask your doctor about emergency battery backup systems if you use electrically-powered life-support equipment.
  • Surge Protectors: Protect sensitive electronic equipment, such as computers, televisions and other devices, with surge protectors.
  • Replacement Fuses: Make sure you know how to safely reset your circuit breaker or change fuses. Plus, keep extra fuses on hand.
  • Garage Door: Know how to open your garage door manually if it's equipped with an automatic opener.

Local Resources

Your safety is our top priority. We work closely with federal, state and local agencies to assure we're working within all regulatory requirements. Visit the links below for more information about local efforts to prepare our community in case of emergency:

Response

When severe weather is expected, we get our crews ready to respond. By the time a storm arrives, our emergency team is already at work implementing a storm response plan. As soon as weather conditions allow us to safely begin working, our crews assess the extent of the damage and begin restoration. If necessary, we call in line crews from other utility companies to help with restoration efforts.

Determining Priority

During a crisis, our top priority is first restoring power to utility production facilities, then hospitals, nursing care facilities, police and fire stations, radio and television stations and sanitary pumping facilities. We then focus on restoring power to the remaining households and businesses, starting with electrical circuits where the largest numbers of customers are without power.

Reporting Power Outages

If you lose power following a storm, please report your outage. There are four ways to report an outage, which are outlined in our Outage Center.

Safety Tips

  • Stay at least 25 feet away from downed power lines and anything they're in contact with, including puddles of water and fences. Keep children and pets away, too.
  • Be extremely cautious near metal fences, which conduct electricity, following a severe storm. Electric current will be the strongest where a downed power line is touching a metal fence. Even a connecting fence several backyards away can be energized and dangerous.
  • Never cross yellow barrier tape. It may be around downed power lines.
  • Never drive across downed power lines. If a power line falls on your vehicle, remain inside your vehicle until emergency help arrives.
  • A live power line may spark and whip around as it looks for a ground. A ground is the earth or something touching the earth, like a fence or a tree. A live wire that has found its ground may lie silently, but is still dangerous. Report it by calling 877-295-5001.
  • Cable or telephone lines can be energized if they meet electrical lines. Contact with any energized power line can be fatal, so never touch them.

Recovery

Recovery includes actions taken to return to a normal or safer situation following an emergency. Specific tasks during this stage include accounting for and assuring financial assistance (if applicable) and gathering information to perform a thorough review, if required.

Frequently Asked Questions

Follow these guidelines:

  • Use appliances only for their intended purpose and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing, operating and maintaining your appliance. Never try to heat your home using your stove, outdoor grill or any other appliance not specifically designed for indoor heating.
     
  • Keep children and pets a safe distance from heating appliances.
     
  • A portable space heater should be placed at least three feet away from flammable material and never be left unattended. Turn off your space heater when leaving the house or going to bed.
     
  • Maintain proper ventilation in the room where a heater is being used. Open the fireplace damper or open a window slightly to ensure the flow of fresh air and prevent carbon monoxide build-up.
     
  • Keep properly functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home and close to sleeping areas.
     
  • Never use electric heaters near water because of the possibility of shock or electrocution.
     
  • Avoid using extension cords with electric heaters.

Please follow these steps:

  • Stay out of flooded/damp basements or other areas if water is in contact with outlets, a furnace or any electrically operated appliance that is energized. The water or moisture may conduct electricity. Contact may cause serious or fatal injury.
     
  • You may have a lot of tree debris in your yard following a storm. Wait until power line repairs are complete before you begin your storm cleanup. Energized power lines may be hidden in the brush. If you see a downed power line, call us immediately at 877-295-5001.
     
  • Know how to reset your circuit breakers. Make sure appliances and electronics are turned off, your hands are dry and you are standing on a dry surface.
     
  • If fuses, instead of circuit breakers, protect your home wiring, you may want to call an electrician for assistance. Make sure you have instructions for your specific type of fuse. Get extra replacement fuses and store them near the fuse panel along with a flashlight.
     
  • During an outage, keep your refrigerator door closed and discard any perishable food that has been above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for over two hours. Never taste food to determine if it's safe to eat and always discard any items that have come into contact with raw meat juices. See the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Food Safety Guidelines if you have questions about your food.

Follow these guidelines:

  • Only plugs or plug guards should be placed in any outlet. Be sure outdoor outlets and outlets near wet areas of the kitchen, bath and laundry room have GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) to prevent serious shock injuries.
     
  • Inspect cords and plugs regularly and replace damaged ones. To prevent damage, pull by the plug, not the cord, when unplugging an appliance or yard tool.
     
  • Never use anything other than a fuse to replace a fuse. Make sure the replacement fuse is the correct amperage.
     
  • Always unplug an appliance or tool before cleaning, adjusting or repairing it.

Follow these guidelines:

  • If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is the right capacity for the tool or appliance with which it is used. Use grounded (three-prong) extension cords for outdoor tools and holiday lighting.
     
  • Make sure tools, appliances and holiday lights are approved for outdoor use. Outdoor tools and appliances should have heavier wiring, special insulation and a three-prong, grounded plug.
     
  • When hanging lights around your roofline or in trees, be sure to survey the area for overhead power lines and maintain at least a 10-foot distance.
     
  • Keep all electrical connections off the ground and hang sockets downward to prevent water from seeping into them.
     
  • Don’t run electrical cords through door or window openings where they can be damaged.
     
  • For added protection, plug outdoor lights and decorations into circuits protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
     
  • Don’t overload electrical circuits or use more than three sets of standard lights on each extension cord.
     
  • Unplug light sets before inserting new bulbs or changing fuses.
     
  • Keep lights off carpet, furniture and drapes. Turn them off before you go to bed or leave home.
     
  • Make sure household smoke detectors are working properly.

If you leave your home during the outage, double-check to make sure all heat-producing appliances, such as stoves, clothes dryers, irons and curling irons, are unplugged. This will minimize the danger of fire if power is restored while you are away.

Protect sensitive electronic equipment, such as computers, televisions and stereos, with surge suppressors. If you are home when a storm approaches, you may want to unplug sensitive electronic equipment.

Please call 911 and wait in your vehicle for help. If you must get out of the vehicle because of fire or other danger, jump clear of the vehicle. Be sure not to touch your vehicle and the ground at the same time.

Remember: When electricity hits the ground, it spreads out in ripples of varying voltage — like a stone skipped across water. The voltage is highest in the ring closest to the vehicle and decreases with distance. If you place one foot in a different voltage zone than the other, you could become a conductor for electricity.

If you see or suspect a downed power line, stay at least 20 feet away and keep children and pets away. Call 877-295-5001 or 911 immediately. Use extreme caution and follow these guidelines:

  • Never assume a wire is not dangerous, even if it’s lying still.
     
  • Never cross the yellow barrier tape that may be around downed power lines.
     
  • Exercise extreme caution near metal fences after severe weather, even if there are no downed power lines in sight. Electric currents will be strongest where a downed wire is touching the metal fence, but even a connecting fence several backyards away can be energized and dangerous
     
  • Find out where power lines and other utilities are buried before you install a fence, deck, mailbox or lamppost. A simple phone call to MISS Dig at 8-1-1 is all it takes.

Never throw water on an electrical fire. If you can do so safely, turn off the power or unplug the appliance causing the fire. Call emergency services immediately. Limit the number of appliances plugged into each outlet to try and prevent an electrical fire. Don’t exceed the recommended wattage when replacing bulbs in lamps, light fixtures or holiday lighting.

Never touch a person who is being shocked. Act quickly, but keep yourself out of danger. If you can do so safely, unplug the appliance causing the shock or turn off the power. Call for medical help immediately. Once the victim is cleared from electrical contact, begin CPR.