Utility Companies Make Progress Overnight

Power was restored to more than 25,000 Consumers Energy customers since late Wednesday afternoon and additional crews are headed to Michigan to get the job done. The Lansing Board of Water and Light is also making significant progress. The number of Customers in the dark this morning is now under 5000. A BWL spokesman who told us there are 4400 customers without power. That's down from 5700 overnight.

While the pace of restoration picks up, Consumers Energy continues to emphasize four areas of safety for the public during the extended power outage.

The utility is stressing these four public safety tips:

Reduce risks of carbon monoxide poisoning: Home generator safety is critical. Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that is potentially fatal. Never use a generator indoors, in a garage, basement or near any air intakes and never fuel a generator when it is running. Ensure that it is properly connected by a licensed electrician and, for the safety of line workers and first responders, make certain it is isolated from the utility?s electric distribution system.

People should never use ovens, propane grills, etc. to heat their homes, because it could cause potentially fatal CO poisoning. Purchasing CO detectors is strongly recommended.

Symptoms of CO poisoning often mimic the flu, and include headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and stinging or burning of the eyes. Prolonged exposure can cause disorientation, convulsions, unconsciousness and ultimately death.

Drivers should use extreme caution in areas without power: With continued power outages, many road intersections have non-working traffic signals. Stop at intersections and make sure it is safe to proceed before entering the intersection or crossing a railroad line. Michigan law requires that these intersections be considered four-way stops. Drivers should also stop at all railroad crossings as crossing gates and signals may have lost electrical power.

The public also should be alert to utility crews working along roads, and drivers should take extra precautions in those situations. In particular, drivers should slow down or stop and wait for oncoming traffic to clear so they safely can go past utility workers and equipment on roadsides.

Downed wire safety: This storm has produced a record number of downed power lines, so remember, if you see a downed wire stay 25 feet away and call 1-800-477-5050 immediately. Be careful of wires that may be entangled in storm debris and never touch anything a power line may be touching.

Keep pipes from freezing: With continued cold temperatures, residents without power who have municipal-provided water are encouraged to open their faucets for a constant drip to help keep pipes from freezing.

As of 4:30 a.m. Thursday, approximately 89,250 customers were without power. In all, the storm caused more than 348,000 outages, or more than 19 percent of the utility?s 1.8 million electric customers. It is the company?s largest Christmas-week storm in its 126-year history and its largest ice storm in more than 10 years.

More than 2,900 field and office employees from Consumers Energy, Michigan-based contractors and workers from 11 states and Washington, D.C. are focused on the storm restoration.

An additional 180 utility workers from Georgia, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri are en route to the Flint area, the hardest hit by the ice storm. They will join more than 560 field workers already on the job across Genesee County.

As of 4:30 a.m., areas most affected by electric interruptions were: Allegan (351); Barry (11,364); Calhoun (2,081); Clinton (6,385); Eaton (8,214); Genesee (32,368); Ingham (9,223); Ionia (2,013); Kalamazoo (265); Kent (1,269); Livingston (2,920); Oakland (1,804) and Shiawassee (10,583).

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