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      Widespread power outages possible from winter storm

      The winter storm's biggest impact may be on power lines. Hundreds and maybe thousands of power outages in our area are possible from the storm.

      If your power goes out, the first thing you should do is report it to your power company. Don't assume they know about it.

      Santee Cooper Power has 16 repair crews getting ready to tackle outages and another 10 private contractors on standby.

      Before any of them head out to repair power lines, they hope utility customers will do some prepping of their own.

      "We want you to think ahead. Be prepared," said Santee Cooper spokesperson Susan Mungo. "Know where your candles are, your matches, batteries for flashlights, battery operated radios if you have them."

      If your power goes out, the utility suggests you turn off major appliances and electronics to avoid a big surge or overload when power is restored.

      "Think about something that you did leave on, the stove, an electric heater, things like that, that can actually be a fire hazard should the power come back on," Mungo said.

      If you see a wire on the ground, don't assume that it's dead, or mistake it for a cable TV or phone line. Just stay away from it.

      "Most of the time it's a wire down and naturally it can be very dangerous and we would want them to stay away and report it, naturally," said W.I. Jones, operations manager for Horry Electric Co-op.

      Power has to be restored in a particular order, with transmission lines and substations going first, before residential and individual customers.

      If you see a neighbor's power come back on before yours does, it may be because that home is on a different circuit.

      Eventually, repair crews will get to you.

      "We will be there, we're coming, but it does take time to get power restored," said Jones.

      Spokesmen for both utilities say they will have people manning the phone lines and their web sites to take reports of power outages around the clock until the storm is over.

      Check out our Winter Weather Survival Guide to find out how to report a power outage.