PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (CBS) – The electric utility Peco has activated its emergency response center in case the wind and rain of Hurricane Irene create power issues in the Philadelphia area.

At the Peco Service Building, at Ridge Pike and Chemical Road in Plymouth Meeting, emergency teams received their marching orders to respond to the wicked weather.

Peco spokeswoman Kathy Engel Menendez says that Peco has already contacted local contractors and arranged for supplemental support from its Chicago-based sister utility, Commonwealth Edison.

“We’re reaching into regions of the country not affected by the storm to make sure that we have all the resources that we need locked and loaded, to respond if the storm causes any damage here,” she said.

Peco says customers should keep, within arm’s reach, a flashlight with fresh batteries and a battery-powered radio.

After the storm hits, customers without power should contact the company at 800-841-4141.  The more calls to report an outage, they say, the more effectively Peco can pinpoint the point of failure and dispatch crews to restore service.

Move meats, cheese, milk, and other perishable items from the refrigerator to the freezer, Menendez suggests. A partially full freezer can keep food frozen for at least 24 hours.

Stay away from downed wires, she warns.  She also advises residents whose power has failed to turn off and unplug appliances and other devices to prevent possible damage when the power goes back on.  But keep one light on, she suggests, so you’ll know when service has been restored.

Reported by Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio 1060 Guide To Hurricane Irene

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