Xcel Energy preparing for winter storm

Photo: MGN Online

As a powerful winter storm system moves into the area, electricity companies like Xcel Energy are preparing for the worst.

Xcel Energy is gearing up additional crews to prepare for potential power outages, the company said in a press release Tuesday.

Customers can report outages on Xcel's mobile app, by texting "OUT" to 98936, by calling 800-895-1999, or by visiting Xcel's website. You can keep an eye on power outages in the area on the company's outage map.

Xcel is offering the following tips to stay safe in any winter storm:

• Stay away from downed power lines. Always assume an electric line, even one that is on or near the ground, is energized and dangerous.

• Keep natural gas meters clear. Clearing snow and ice from natural gas meters is key to avoiding the potential for dangerous natural gas buildup indoors due to vents becoming sealed when covered in ice and snow.

• Build a home emergency kit. Xcel Energy recommends assembling an easily accessible kit that can be used in the event of a power outage.

• Heating safety. If using a space heater, take care to ensure safety as more than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year in the United States, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

• Observe food safety. To maintain refrigerator and freezer temperatures, keep doors closed as much as possible. A full freezer will stay at freezing temperatures for approximately two days and a half-full freezer approximately one day.