Stormy Weather: What to do When the Power Goes Out
Recently we’ve had a bit of stormy weather and some power outages around the Harbor.
One of the many things we can be grateful for around here is how reliable (and relatively cheap) our energy supply is compared to the rest of the world.
However, a powerful windstorm, as well as other weather conditions or natural disasters still occasionally interrupt the smooth power supply – and therefore our lives.
We’ve talked a lot recently about what to do to prepare for a power outage, but it’s been a while since we’ve passed along tips on what to do after it’s actually gone out.
Once again we looked to our local PUD as the power – and power out – experts. Here’s what they suggest to do when the power goes out.
WHEN POWER IS OUT
If your power is out, check to see if other houses in your neighborhood are dark too. If it’s just your house, first check your service panel or breaker box for tripped breakers or blown fuses before calling the PUD.
If the power is out in your area, use your landline phone (if possible) and call the Grays Harbor PUD Outage Reporting Hotline at (360) 537-3721 or 1-888-541-5923. (If you don’t have a landline or it isn’t working, you can use a cell phone.)
Leave a front outdoor light switched on as well as a light inside your home, so both you and the PUD crews can quickly ascertain when your electricity has been restored.
If you’re able, turn down your thermostat and turn off your water heater circuit breaker. By doing so, you will help reduce the demand for electricity when power is restored. If the demand is too great all at once, the power system will overload and cause the power to go off again.
Turn off and unplug all sensitive electrical equipment such as computers, television sets, stereos and microwaves. It’s possible there will be a change in voltage for a moment when the power comes back on and that surge could harm your equipment. (It’s also a good idea to use a surge suppressor to protect your electronic equipment. Major appliances that are two large for a surge suppressor (typically microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines, dryers and ranges) should be unplugged or powered off at the breaker panel.
Once the power to your house is back on, wait at least 20 minutes before turning equipment on – there can be a fluctuation in voltage when electricity is restored.
During a power outage, keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible so the cold air stays inside. Food will stay frozen in a full freezer for about two days and about one day in a half full freezer – depending on what kind of food you have inside – meat will stay frozen longer than bread, for instance.
If your water pump is powered by electricity – as many are in the county – an outage quickly limits your water use. So, when the winds start howling, store as much as possible in closed or covered containers. You may also want to fill a bathtub with water to be used to flush toilets if needed.
Remember – never burn charcoal briquettes or operate BBQs of any kind indoors – even in your fireplace.
Remember – never operate a generator indoors – or in a place where
the fumes could seep inside.
Remember – use extreme caution when using candles. Keep them on sturdy surfaces and never leave a candle burning unattended.
Remember – when you see PUD crews working, keep your distance for safety’s sake.
We mentioned it last week, but it cannot be over emphasized: Always assume downed power lines are energized, even if they aren’t sparking, and stay far away!
If you see a downed line, call the Grays Harbor PUD at 360 532-4220, immediately or 911. If you happened to be out of the area when you encounter a downed line, call 911.
If a power line falls across your vehicle while you are inside of it, Do Not Get Out! Instead, wait for help to arrive.
In the rare case that you must leave your car because of some other imminent danger – threatening fire, for instance – do not step out of the car. If your body is touching the car and the ground at the same time, you will be severely shocked. Instead with your feet together, jump clear, landing with your feet together. Then shuffle away, keeping both feet together and on the ground.
RAIN, RAIN, MAY BE HERE TO STAY
It’s not just the lack of power during a storm that can be tricky to navigate. Next week we will be talking about what you can do in a rainstorm to protect your house.
Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.
Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen