AKRON, Ohio -- As Hurricane Sandy reaches landfall in the United States, forecasters predict that a combination of weather conditions could spell trouble for Northeast Ohio.
As is the case with all violent storms, it is important to be prepared to keep yourself and loved ones safe.
CLICK HERE for current local conditions, forecasts and radar, updated throughout the day, every day.
Local electric company FirstEnergy is finalizing preparation plans of their own from Ohio to New Jersey, where they operate electrical systems in parts of five different states.
In Ohio, the company is known locally as Ohio Edison, The Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison.
The Akron-based company's preparation plans include mobilizing crews and securing the services of outside utility crews, electrical contractors and tree contractors to ensure they have the workforce in place should these storms cause excessive damage.
FirstEnergy officials recommend having a home preparation plan in place for between seven to ten days of power outages in a worst-case scenario with this storm system.
Here are some tips to adequately prepare yourself:
• Keep a flashlight and extra batteries handy. Be careful when burning candles because of the hazards of open flames.
• Gather extra blankets or a sleeping bag for each person. Do not use gas stoves, kerosene heaters or other open-flame heat sources to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) gas from building up in your home. CO gas can be deadly.
• If you have a water well and pump, keep an emergency supply of bottled water and/or fill your bathtub with fresh water.
• Stock an emergency supply of convenience foods that do not require cooking.
• Keep a battery-powered radio with extra batteries on hand. Tune in to a local radio station for current storm information.
• Have a hard-wired telephone or a charged cell phone handy in the event you need to report a power outage. Mobile phones can be charged in your vehicle using a car charger when power is out. If you have a smartphone, this will ensure you have access to online information sources.
Here are web links to outage maps, outage reporting forms and a list of phone numbers to report power outages to the various electricity companies in the area...
• FirstEnergy: 1-888-LIGHTSS (1-888-544-4877)
• American Electric Power: (800) 672-2231
(AEP requests customers only report safety hazards during major storms to avoid overloading their phone systems.)
• Cleveland Public Power: (216) 664-3156
Remember to always report downed limbs and power lines to local authorities. Stay away from downed power lines and do not attempt to move them.