How to prepare for a power outage
Last week in this blog we talked about what to do when the power goes out. Because of the snowy spell we had over Christmas and New Year’s we thought we’d let folks know just what to do if their power went out. And there were many outages throughout Grays Harbor during this time!
Now, it looks like we have a bit of a reprieve for a few days at least. But with the majority of winter’s cold and wet weather ahead of us, we thought it would be a great time to review how to prepare ahead of time for the power going out!
Yes, the power does occasionally go out during the summer, but it’s these darker, colder days that not only are more likely to have power outages, but also affect us much more!
So, with no imminent storm that we know of but many weeks of potential cold ahead, we thought we’d discuss today what to do in case the power goes out at your house. Or rather, we will discuss what to do before the power goes out. That’s because it turns out, like so many other things, preparation is your best defense for disaster.
The storm of 2007 startled many of us away from the notion of a power outage being only a few hours of cozy inconvenience and made us realize how truly disrupting and potentially dangerous storms, power outages and people’s reactions to them can be.
Calling when power goes out
The Grays Harbor 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.
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.
However, the PUD is almost always already aware that your power is out and is working as quickly and safely as possible to restore it.
Do you know that you can sign up to receive the PUD’s “Tweets” of outages?
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.
Another way to learn about outage information is to go to the PUD website at 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. The PUD’s website explains these options more fully.
Also, many folks 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 (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 didn’t use to exist and for many will be a great help.
Protect key equipment
Another thing you can do now – especially if you’ve just got 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!
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. As a public entity, the PUD cannot use ratepayers’ money to pay out for damages where it is not at fault.
So, as you shop for new or even just appreciate what your old electronics mean to you, you may want to buy a new surge protector to protect your investment. And, next time you buy a new computer or TV, consider including a suitable new surge protector at the same time.
Live wires, generators
We have more to say about staying safe in a power outage, some of what we mentioned last week. But here are few key safety reminders:
Turn off the main breaker.
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.
Never use carbon monoxide producing heaters – such as a generator or a charcoal grill – inside your home to cook or stay warm. The odorless gas produced is a killer.
If you do use a generator outside, make sure the exhaust isn’t seeping through the roof vents in the soffit into the attic!
Store generator fuel safely and turn off the generator when refilling the fuel.
Keep a battery-operated lantern at the ready and easy to find in the dark!
Make sure you have the food, water and other essentials that you would need if you couldn’t make it to the store for three to five days. And for the sake of your future self, have them organized and accessible!