Friday, January 13, 2017

Safe slumber: Don’t take risks with your electric blanket

Colder weather lends itself to cozier beds, with warm pajamas, flannel sheets and heavy comforters combining to make the perfect winter refuge. For some people, that means adding an electric blanket, too. If that includes you, keep these tips from the Electric Blanket Institute in mind:
  • Make sure your electric blanket lies flat. Don’t bunch it, fold it or let it get balled up between the mattress and footboard, and don’t tuck it in. Heat could get trapped and damage the heating elements.
  • Protect the wires and cords from getting pinched. Don’t use electric blankets with adjustable beds, Murphy beds, pull-out sofas or recliners, where the heating elements can get caught and damaged.
  • Don’t use an electric blanket and a heated mattress pad at the same time. It can lead to overheating.
  • Don’t run cords between the mattress and box spring.
  • Keep pets away from electric blankets. Their teeth and claws can puncture wire insulation and damage the wires.

Also be sure to keep your electric blanket on top of your bedding. Don’t cover it with other blankets, pillows or stuffed animals when it’s on. Don’t lie on it, and don’t let your pets lie on it either. Turn blankets off when not in use.

Have you had your blanket for a while? Consider replacing it, especially if it’s older than 10 years. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), heated pads and electric blankets cause almost 500 fires each year – most of which involve electric blankets that are more than 10 years old. And remember, infants, young children, older adults, and paralyzed or heat-insensitive individuals should never use an electric blanket.

One extra safe sleeping suggestion: Don’t tuck electronics of any kind under your pillow. They can overheat there and start a fire. Set them on the nightstand or a nearby dresser instead.

The Electric Blanket Institute and ESFI have more tips on electric blanket safety, and our website has more energy safety tips.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Partnership with UW-Milwaukee helps us prepare for storms

“From the Innovative Weather Center at UW-Milwaukee, I’m Mackenzie Nuthals...”

You may have heard this introduction by UW-Milwaukee atmospheric science students providing the weather forecasts on WUWM radio. These interns not only are learning to provide forecasts for media but also how to provide forecasts for companies such as We Energies.

“On a daily basis, they provide a regular weather outlook of what we can expect: wind speeds, temps and potential lightning, anything that might impact our system,” said Duane Miller, manager – gas and electric operations at We Energies.

Their forecasts help us prepare and plan for what our customers and crews may face when a weather system moves in. This year’s interns recently toured our Pewaukee operations center where they learned how we use their forecasts.

Mike Westendorf, director of operations at Innovative Weather, had a vision when he began his partnership with us several years ago.

”We Energies wanted to have an entity that could interpret the weather and see it through their eyes. Since that time, We Energies has been our best and longest partner in this,” said Westendorf.

He explains that there’s a training component to the program offered by clients such as We Energies to help students grow into more confident forecasters.

Alli Keclik, Innovative Weather intern, said, “We are trying the best we can, so We Energies can do the best for its customers.”

Keclik is one of those confident forecasters. She says that she grew up loving the weather, which led her to study meteorology. She recently received her M.S. in atmospheric science degree. Her experience at Innovative Weather helped her get a job at the National Weather Service.

“This is definitely going to help me when I go out to the National Weather Service and will continue to help me in the future,” she said.

Westendorf echoes that sentiment, saying that UW-Milwaukee wants to train and educate young people to be productive members of their communities.

“What I love about this program is that We Energies is providing an opportunity for them to grow and to have skills that will make the students not only employable but also potential leaders wherever they go in the future,” he said.