Making safety a priority

While we take every measure to prevent problems and reduce risks for every customer, there are inherent dangers associated with gas and electricity. You can help diminish those dangers by being aware of problems that might occur and knowing how to respond to them if they do.

Do you smell gas?
Take action immediately if you smell natural gas, even if you do not have a gas line in your house.

  • Call 1-800-841-4141 if you have a Natural Gas Emergency.
  • Report the odor immediately to us at 1-800-841-4141 or to your natural gas supplier.
  • If the odor is strong, leave the house immediately. Call PECO or your natural gas supplier from a neighbor's telephone. Do not use your own telephone.
  • When you call, tell us where you are so you can let us into your house when we arrive. Our emergency personnel are available 24 hours a day, every day.
  • A faint odor of natural gas indoors may mean a pilot is out on a gas appliance. Check it. You can correct this situation easily and safely. If you're not sure what to do, call PECO or your repair service.
  • Never use matches to look for gas leaks and never try to look for the leak yourself. Don't flip a switch, since they can create sparks, and don't use any other electrical equipment.

Know where lines are buried
Always call before you dig. There may be utility lines under the ground that you are not aware of.

  • Call 8-1-1 or 1-800-242-1776 before you dig.
  • PECO has natural gas and electric lines in many streets  throughout the region. There may be an electric or gas line in front of your property if you live in PECO's service territory. For this reason, even if you do not have gas service in your home, you should be aware of what lines are underground.
  • The law requires 3 working days notice before you dig anywhere in the state of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania One Call will notify all member utilities of your plan to dig. The utilities will then mark out the underground facilities.

Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning
Although there may be no problem in your house, you should be alert to the causes and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning are malfunctioning heater vents or clogged chimneys. They should be checked occasionally to make sure they are free from obstructions.
  • Your heater also releases water vapor that must get out through a vent or chimney. Otherwise, moisture in the chimney can cause gradual erosion of the chimney.
  • If you have concerns, get expert advice from your heating service company, or call PECO at 1-800-494-4000.

Stay safe indoors
Ensure all electrical equipment is in good working order.

  • Keep all electrical cords in good condition. Don't run them under rugs or furniture and never staple or nail them in place.
  • Check your appliances and power tools for the UL (Underwriters' Laboratories) seal, signifying that they've been tested for safety. Be sure to repair or replace any tools that are damaged.
  • Remind children not to put anything into an electrical outlet. Use plastic outlet caps if there are young ones at home.

Avoid water and wetness
Whether indoors or out, water and electricity can be a deadly combination.

  • Don't use a plugged-in appliance, like a hair dryer, when standing on a damp floor or in a wet bathtub or shower.
  • Never set a radio, telephone or any other electrical appliance on the edge of a tub or sink. If you want music in the bathroom, get a battery-operated radio meant for use near water.
  • If a plugged-in appliance does fall into water, don't reach in to get it out. Unplug it first by pulling on the cord, not the plug. If the outlet has a GFCI, it will automatically disconnect the circuit in case of an accident like this.
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in bathroom outlets and other areas where water and electricity might meet.
  • If your basement floods, don't enter unless you are sure the water isn't in contact with a source of electricity. Call a qualified electrician to disconnect the power before you enter a flooded basement.
  • Never touch anything electrical if you are wet or standing in water.

Stay safe during an outage
Be prepared ahead of time with essential items and information.

Before a storm hits or an outage occurs, it's good to be prepared...

  • Keep PECO's emergency telephone number, 1-800-841-4141, handy with other emergency numbers near the telephone.  Have at least one standard non-cordless telephone or a cellular phone available to make calls.
  • Have a flashlight with fresh batteries on each floor of your home.
  • Avoid using candles; a battery-operated lantern would be a better bet.  If using candles, never leave them unattended.
  • Have a battery-powered clock.
  • Have a supply of bottled water and easy-to-prepare, non-perishable foods available for extended outages.  Make sure you have enough water for drinking and cooking.
  • Have sensitive electronic appliances, like microwave ovens, televisions and computers, protected with a voltage surge suppressor.  The suppressor can eliminate the surge from lightning, fallen poles or other accidents before the surge can enter equipment and protects valuables from damage.  If appliances are not protected, unplug them before a storm.

What to do when the lights go out - Key steps to take...

  • Check the fuse or circuit breaker box to see if a fuse tripped inside the home.
  • Check with the neighbors to see if their power is out.
  • Call PECO at 1-800-841-4141 as soon as possible. Remember, call volume can become very busy during storms and the automated, interactive system allows the company to accept thousands of calls at a time and get your information to the right people faster.  When more customers call, we can better manage our response efforts.  Outages can also be reported on-line.
  • Be sure to request a customer service representative if you can describe damage that has occurred, such as a downed pole or wires, etc.
  • Once the cause of the outage is known, PECO will do our best to provide you with updates on power restoration and when you can expect service to be restored.  In most cases, outages are restored in less than two hours, longer during storms.
  • Turn off and unplug most appliances to prevent an electrical overload when power is restored, and keep a couple of lights on so you'll know when service is back.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.  Resist the urge to frequently check on foods.  Move meats, cheese, milk etc. into the freezer compartment since it will stay colder longer.  If the freezer is partially full, it can keep meat frozen for up to 24 hours and up to 48 hours when full.  Fill the freezer and refrigerator with bottles filled with water to occupy more space.  Wrap the refrigerator/freezer in a blanket to keep it insulated and preserve foods longer.
  • Dry ice, available at some retail stores, can be used to preserve frozen foods for longer than 24 hours but presents safety concerns.  Dry ice is hazardous material and must be handled with care because it can cause severe burns.  Food that directly touches dry ice can get freezer burns.  Dry ice should not be used in a smaller cooler with food or medicines that are needed and could become frozen.
  • PECO will not supply dry ice during weather-related events, so that the company can focus its resources on power restoration activities.

During colder weather...

  • Turn off all appliances including your furnace, water heater and water pump.
  • If the indoor temperature drops to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or below, open your faucets slightly so that they constantly drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • During the day, open your blinds to allow sun to warm the space.
  • At night, cover your windows with drapes or blankets to minimize heat loss.
  • If you have a fireplace, never use gasoline or other flammable liquids to start or quicken a fire. Always keep a screen around an open flame, and don't close the damper while ashes are still hot.
  • Never use a gas range for room heating. This can be dangerous. Seek shelter at a warming center, friend or family if home temperatures fall too low.
  • Wear extra layers of clothing and a hat to prevent the loss of body heat.

Safe use of generators...

  • Don't connect your generator directly to your home's wiring.  Connecting a portable electric generator directly to your household wiring can be deadly to you and others.  A generator that is directly connected to your home's wiring can "backfeed" onto the power lines connected to your home.  Utility transformers can then "step-up" or increase this backfeed to thousands of volts - enough to kill a utility lineman making outage repairs a long way from your house.
  • Never use a generator indoors or in an attached garage.  Just like your automobile, a portable generator uses an internal combustion engine that emits deadly carbon monoxide.  Be sure to place the generator where exhaust fumes will not enter the house.  Only operate it outdoors in a well-ventilated, dry area, away from air intakes to the home, and protected from direct exposure to rain and snow, preferably under a canopy, open shed or carport.
  • Never plug a portable electric generator into a regular household outlet.  Plugging a generator into a regular household outlet can energize "dead" power lines and injure neighbors or utility workers.
  • Don't overload the generator.  Do not operate more appliances and equipment than the output rating of the generator.  Overloading your generator can seriously damage your valuable appliances and electronics.
  • Use the proper power cords.  Plug individual appliances into the generator using heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords with a wire gauge adequate for the appliance load.  Overloaded cords can cause fires or equipment damage.  Don't use extension cords with exposed wires or worn shielding.
  • Read and adhere to the manufacturer's instructions for safe operation.  Don't cut corners when it comes to safety.  Carefully read and observe all instructions in your portable electric generator's owner manual.
  • Turn off all equipment powered by the generator before shutting down your generator.

When power is restored...

  • Wait a few minutes and plug appliances back in one at a time.
  • Make a list of items you wish you had and restock for the next emergency.

Call before you dig