Prepare now for power outages; plenty of winter weather yet to come
Happy New Year! It looks like 2019 is coming in with an attitude. And that means we need to be prepared!
Officially winter has barely begun with the winter solstice on Dec. 21 this year. That’s the shortest day and therefore the night is the longest of the year.
That means we have plenty of winter left. So far, what we’ve lacked in snow fall, we’ve gained in wind – in spades!
Our recent blogs have touched on protecting yourself and your home in the wind. Take a look at them on our website at www.nwgh.org.
Power outages are often the result of stormy weather. With more than two and a half months of winter ahead of us, we thought it would be a good time to review how to prepare for a power outage.
During the summer when a car crash or aged equipment causes a power outage, it simply doesn’t have the impact an outage has during the cold, wet and windy, short days of winter. Plus, because of weather and icy roads, there typically are just more outages during the fall and winter months in Western Washington.
PROTECT KEY EQUIPMENT
One thing you can do now – especially if you received a new computer or big screen TV at Christmas -- is to purchase quality surge protector devices.
And frankly if you want to protect a high-end TV, make sure you buy a high end surge protector! They are not all created equal.
If your appliance or electronic device is ruined when the power comes back on, it’s up to your home owner’s or renter’s insurance to cover it. (After you’ve paid the deductible.) As a public entity, the PUD cannot use ratepayers’ money to pay out for damages when it is not at fault.
POWER IS OUT. SHOULD I CALL?
The PUD has an Outage Hotline you can call to let them know of a power outage. The number is (360) 537-3721 or toll free at 1-888-541-5923. We keep these numbers handy in our cell phone and had to use them in the last big blast due to outage. We suggest you don’t assume the PUD knows you are without power – call!
Those numbers are only for use to report or learn about an outage; they are not for customer service questions. For general PUD business, contact customer service at (360) 532-4220.
The PUD may already be aware that your power is out, but know this, they will be working as quickly and safely as possible to restore it.
A few years back, the PUD added more phone lines and greater staffing to handle power outage questions, as well as several other ways to get the information you may be looking for.
Grays Harbor PUD has an active Facebook page – Grays Harbor Public Utility District – that you can check for outage updates (and other news).
In addition, you can receive “Tweets” about outages from @GHPUD on Twitter. If you don’t already have a Twitter account, you need to sign up for one. (There’s no charge.) Once you have a Twitter account you can set the settings on your account to receive GHPUD tweets on your cell phone or computer. (If you do choose to have the tweets received on your phone then text charges apply.)
Another way to learn about outage information is to go to the PUD website at www.ghpud.org and sign up to receive outage alerts directly from the PUD. On the website, you need to click “receive outage alerts.”
Once again you will have a choice whether to receive those alerts on your cell phone as a text message or on your computer as an e-mail. The Grays Harbor PUD’s website explains these options more fully.
Also, nowadays, many people have dropped their phone land lines. For those folks, or the people who just always have their cell phones at the ready, it may be worth a call to customer service at (360) 532-4220 ahead of time to make sure your PUD account is linked to the phone number – perhaps a cell number – that you want it to be. This option is relatively new and for many will be a great help.
LIVE WIRES, GENERATORS
We have more to say about staying safe in a power outage – most will have to wait until our next blog. But, until next week we leave you with four safety reminders:
Always stay away from any downed power lines and assume they are live and dangerous.
If you use a generator always do so following the manufacturer’s directions. Pay close attention to having it placed so that the exhaust cannot enter your home.
Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Make sure yours are working properly.
Do not refuel the generator while it is still running.