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Can Georgia Utilities Turn Off Customer Power in Extreme Heat?

Georgia is just one of 19 states that have laws regarding the disconnect of customer power in summer months. No company in the state may shut off power in the extreme heat or when temperature falls below 32 degrees.

Summers in Georgia are no joke.

It's hot, humid and some days, the extreme heat and sweltering sun is downright unbearable.

It's even more unbearable for those who are struggling to pay their power bills or have no air conditioner during the summer.

In a recent study, half of all households with power disconnections have struggled to pay their power bills and have experienced multiple disconnections.

Power shut-offs can be dangerous, especially if you rely on power for air conditioning in summer months or heat in the winter.

The loss of power can also be detrimental if food loss occurs from a fridge or freezer being shut off for long periods of time. Likewise, some rely on cold temperatures to store important medical supplies or medications.

Georgians have all these risks and more.

So, can power companies shut off your utilities in extreme heat?

Here's what the law says.

Only 19 states in the U.S. have laws for disconnecting customers in the summer months.

Luckily, Georgia is one of those states.

In Georgia, a company cannot disconnect your service unless your bill is at least 45 days overdue and a notification has been sent. Also in Georgia, no company can shut off the power in extreme heat or if the temperature is under 32 degrees; Georgia law has made it illegal to do so.

Tips to protect yourself and your home

According to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, Georgians should do the following to stay healthy during a heat wave:

Before extreme heat:

— Check to see if your home's cooling system is working properly.

— Make sure your home is well insulated and that you have weather stripping around your doors and window sills to keep the cool air inside.

— Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.

— Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.

— Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.

— Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings or louvers. Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.

— Keep storm windows up all year.

— Learn about the types of medical conditions that can result from heat waves, and the proper first aid measures that should be taken.

During extreme heat:

— Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun.

— Drink plenty of fluids and replace salts and minerals in your body. Anyone on a fluid-restricted diet or who has a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake. People with epilepsy or heart, kidney or liver disease should also consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

— Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.

— Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station or NOAA Weather Radio for the latest information.

— Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.

— Spend time in air-conditioned places. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spend some time each day in an air-conditioned environment such as public libraries, shopping malls or other indoor public spaces.

— Stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.

— Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.

— Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.

— Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.

(c)2023 The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Ga.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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