Safety remains a concern for thousands without power

Strong winds knocked down trees and power lines across Southwest Virginia

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Nearly 17,000 Appalachian Power customers were left without power Monday after strong winds knocked down trees and power lines across Southwest Virginia over the weekend.

Roanoke County resident Donnie Metcalf spent Sunday night at his son's house. When he returned home Monday morning, he saw that a tree had fallen on his house.

Another Roanoke County resident, Cody Rifendifer, had to bundle up overnight to stay warm.

"It's freezing. It's absolutely freezing," he said.

Appalachian Power crews were forced to wait for the winds to die down before they could safely make any repairs.

With thousands of people still out of power, fire officials have some safety tips. They are warning people to not light candles. Instead, they recommend using battery-operated flashlights or lanterns.

"It can be dangerous from a fire safety standpoint," said Brian Clingenpeel, the community outreach coordinator for the Roanoke County Fire & Rescue Department.

Fire officials also say you should avoid power lines and any debris that may be in contact with the lines.

"Keep you, your family, friends, pets away from any kind of downed line. We can't be sure that's not an energized line and that could be very, very dangerous," Clingenpeel said.

You should use generators outside, be careful with alternative heating sources such as wood stoves or kerosene heaters and never use an oven to heat your home.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends keeping your refrigerator and freezer doors shut as much as possible because food will keep cold for about four hours if the doors are shut. You should also keep a few days' worth of nonperishable meals that you don't need to cook.

Once the power comes back on, the FDA recommends that you throw out perishable food, such as meat, fish or eggs, if the refrigerator temperature has been above 40 degrees Farenheit for two hours or more.

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