Co-op Reminds Members of Importance of Outage Preparation during Winter Weather

Although Flathead Electric Co-op’s (FEC) uptime is 99.7% — meaning that power is on over 99% of the time — the continued cold temperatures are a good reminder to members to always be prepared for an unexpected cold weather power outage.

“Being prepared doesn’t happen by accident,” says Katie Pfennigs, FEC Community Relations Manager. “While our crews are out every day maintaining our system to prevent outages, there are events, such as winter storms and car-versus-pole accidents, that are out of our control. Outages do happen, and we want our members to have a plan that will keep them warm and safe if their power goes out.”

Here are a few friendly tips:

  • Make sure you have an alternate heat source, and keep it properly prepared, i.e., source and properly store kerosene for your heater; candles; and wood, gas, or pellets for stoves.
  • Stock up on water! Whether you buy it bottled or do it yourself, keep in mind that electric water pumps don’t work when the power is out. Store your water supply where it won’t freeze.
  • Lay in extra food supplies, too, and remember infant formula and pet food if you have actual babies or fur babies in your life.
  • Charge up your devices, and put your flashlights, batteries, power banks, lanterns, and radios in an easy-to-access location.
  • Top off your gas tank. Most gas stations rely on electricity to operate their pumps, and you might need to use your vehicle as a charging or warming station in an emergency.
  • Prep your home for cold temperatures. Seal drafts, insulate pipes, and install carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups on every level of your home.

FEC takes communication during power outages very seriously.

“Our goal is to get you relevant information about your power outage as soon as we know it,” says Pfennigs. “This can be very challenging because there are so many unknown factors during power outages, but we do our best.”

The Co-op has several resources members can use to get outage information. FEC’s dispatch center is staffed 24/7 to respond to power outages. Members can report that their power is out by calling 406-751-4449. Additional information about current power outages is available on the Co-op’s website, which is also fully optimized for mobile device use. Choose the “Outage Center.” From there, you can look at the Outage map to determine if your outage has already been reported to the Co-op or if there is additional information available about the outage. You can typically sign up for text message updates about the outage status and estimated time of restoration as well.

Keep in mind that when large outages occur, sometimes the outage map is not updated in real time because the Co-op’s dispatchers prioritize crew assignments, emergency communications, and power restoration tasks.  In these cases, the Co-op’s communication team will post updates on our website and social media channels as they are available. Heading straight to the Co-op’s home page is always the best practice if members have questions about an outage.