Prepare for a power outage

Happy January! Here’s to a fresh, New Year! Likely 2021 has been the most anticipated New Year in many years!


Here’s hoping that 2021 brings great things to each of you and to Grays Harbor County.


While 2020 proved we certainly can’t plan for every possible situation, at the same time it also proved that being as stable and ready as possible for “surprises” can make us more resilient to overcome them.


One small “surprise,” when it comes to home ownership, and even apartment living, is effectively and safely coping when the power goes out.


While we do experience occasional, small area power outages at times in the summer – perhaps due to a car crash or old equipment failing, it’s during these freezing days, not having power for a time takes on a whole different significance.


So with no imminent storm 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 most 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. (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 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 – most will have to wait until next week’s column. But, until next week we leave you with three safety reminders:

  1. Always stay away from any downed power lines and assume they are live and dangerous.

  2. 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.

  3. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Make sure yours are working properly.


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