Power outages are never welcome occasions, but when they occur during cold winter weather they can go from an inconvenience to a safety hazard all too quickly. If you want to stay warm and safe during a winter outage, it’s best to be prepared!
When outages occur, City Light’s response prioritizes life safety first, followed by emergency services and then by repairs which will bring the largest number of customers back into service. In the event of widespread outages, storm damage can take hours to repair and large events can take days. Here are some tips to help you hunker down and stay safe during a winter outage:
- Have Your Phone Ready – Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Have a corded or cell phone available. If your cell phone is your primary phone, make sure it is charged and you have a phone charger ready. It’s a good idea to keep external batteries charged too.
- Report the Outage – If you experience an outage, please report it by calling the Seattle City Light Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-3000. Remember to give us your name, address, phone number and describe any unusual circumstances that could help us identify the problem. You can also visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to get updates on restoration work, as well as following City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
- Stay Away from Downed Power Lines – Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you come across any downed lines, do not approach or touch anything in contact with the wire as it could be energized and live. If you see a downed power line, call 911 or (206) 684-3000. You can also report downed power lines by sharing it through City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
- Keep Warm and Bundle Up – Try to retain as much heat as possible. Close windows, curtains, unused fireplace dampers, and have blankets ready to conserve body heat. Cold weather is especially hard on infants, children and the elderly. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, covering the head, feet and hands.
- Have Your Emergency Kit/Plan Ready – Prepare an emergency kit if you haven’t already. Some ideas to include are a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket. During a major storm, have a plan for locating family members in case you are not with them. For more information about emergency kits and plans, please visit: www.takewinterbystorm.org.
- Use Hot Water Sparingly – Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 to 72 hours.
- Close Your Refrigerator/Freezer – Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. A full refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for up to six to 10 hours; a full freezer up to 2 days. In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers remain closed while the power is out. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Unplug Electrical Appliances – If you experience a prolonged outage, be sure to turn off electrical appliances to prevent fires and equipment damage. Some electrical appliances to consider unplugging before a storm hits are computers and televisions.
- Be Cautious with Generators and Grills – Use generators with care during a power outage and always use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never plug a generator into your home circuitry. Instead, plug in appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. When it comes to the grill, do not use barbeques indoors.
- Be Fire Safe – Do not use candles as a light source nor any open flame as a heat source.
- Electric Garage Owners – Know how to use the manual override of your electric garage door if your power goes out.
- Remember Your Pets – Household pets such as cats, dogs, fish and birds may require special care. Contact your veterinarian for more information.
- Life-Support Customers – If you rely on electric life-support machines, make sure you have emergency power and know how to operate it. Make sure your system has an alarm to alert you if the power goes out.