Ed VanHoose is the Digital Communications Administrator/IT Manager for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives
Who you gonna call?
I want to thank all of you that wrote in with computer issues for the last issue of Powered Up. I plan to continue with more answers to those questions next month, so keep looking for them, and keep writing in! Remember, any technical question is appropriate, not just those related to computers.
In the meantime, Illinois was hit by a record setting blizzard this year that caused some consumers to be without power for extended periods of time. And, many of you were left wondering what to do. In this issue, we’re going to take a look at some of the resources available to you should you find yourself in a disaster situation.
First, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t do. It may surprise you that in some cases 911 is not the first number you should call, especially if you’re looking for help with a power outage. In fact, the local respondent to a 911 call probably can’t offer assistance with power outages at all. Now, don’t take that statement the wrong way. If you find yourself in an emergency situation where you need to be evacuated, or if your life is in danger, then certainly you should call 911! But, if you just want to check the status of the outage or find out when you’ll be back on, then 911 can’t assist you with that.
So, whom should you call? Well, in an ideal world you would be able to pick up the telephone and call in to your electric provider to report an outage, and inquire about restoration times. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work. There may be times, such as when an ice storm has destroyed a large number of electric poles, that the amount of people calling is so great you simply cannot get through.
In fact, the cooperative may have had it’s telephone system hit as well, and may have very limited access to phone services. In those cases, I encourage you to talk to your neighbors. Maybe you could even designate a single person in your community to call in. Or, if you have a smart phone (a phone with access to the Internet) then you can check your cooperative’s website, Facebook page or other designated point to gather information.
The thing to remember is with all the technological innovations we have today, there are multitudes of ways to get information.
Did you know that through the Department of Human Services (DHS), many residents of Illinois now have available to them another option when looking for assistance with human services or social services issues.
You should call 211 if you need help with things like: food, shelter, counseling, income supports, employment, healthcare, and services for specialized populations.
Keep in mind that the Illinois 211 service is a pilot program and may not yet be available in your area. Visit the DHS website (www.dhs.state.il.us) to find out if 211 is active where you live. If not, get involved and ask your elected officials for it!
Everybody has technical issues. Some are interesting. Some aren’t. If you have an interesting technical problem that you want answered in a future edition of Powered Up, please drop me an e-mail. (I might even answer some of the uninteresting ones too.)
Ed VanHoose is the Digital Communications Administrator/IT Manager for the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives in Springfield. He is a specialist in the IT field with over 12 years of experience working in leadership roles for technology based projects in Illinois and Missouri.