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How to Prepare for Winter’s Unpredictable Weather

Weather forecasts this week have a veritable kitchen sink arriving in the Seattle region. The windstorm earlier this week left numerous downed trees and power lines across City Light’s service area. And with cold temperatures and the potential for snow and flash freezing rain on the horizon, outage activity may not be over yet.

While there is still a lot of uncertainty around how the cold weather will impact the Seattle area this weekend, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Here are a few tips to keep you safe, ready, and warm.

How to prepare for potential power outages

  • Make sure your emergency kit is well-stocked and easy to find. Suggested items to include:
    • Extra blankets and warm clothing.
    • Battery-powered lighting sources and power banks to recharge devices as needed.
    • Drinking water and non-perishable food items.
    • Prescription medications and first aid supplies.
    • Non-electronic entertainment—a deck of cards, puzzle, books, etc.— to preserve your battery life on communication devices.
    • An emergency supply of pet food—don’t forget your furry family members!
  • Keep phones and other electronic devices charged and at the ready.
  • Be sure to bookmark important websites, like the City Light Outage Map, on your phone for easy reference.
  • Sign up for your local alert systems like Alert Seattle, Alert King County or the National Weather Service.

How to stay safe indoors

  • Never, never use generators and barbecues indoors. Keep them outside and away from windows. Don’t put yourself or your family at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Only use flashlights and battery-operated candles to light the inside of your home. Avoid fire hazards with open flames.
  • Do not store food outside even in freezing temperatures. Outside temperature varies, especially in the sun. Never taste suspect food. Even if food looks and smells fine, illness-causing bacteria may be present. When in doubt, throw it out.

How to stay safe outdoors

  • Consider all power lines live and dangerous.
    • If you see downed power lines, stay back 30 feet and call 911 immediately.
    • Do not touch power lines or anything touching power lines at anytime.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel during inclement weather whenever possible for your safety and the safety of others.
  • Slow down as you approach public safety or utility activities and vehicles. Change your course if possible.
  • Car vs. pole accidents happen most frequently under slippery conditions.
    • If you’re in an accident involving a utility pole or power lines, stay in your car and warn others around you to stay far away. The exception to this rule is if your car is on fire. 

How to keep warm at home

  • Keep doors and windows shut to keep the warm air in.
  • Dress in layered clothing and pile on extra blankets to keep your body warm.
  • Open your window blinds that face sunlight. This helps bring warmth into your home.
  • Use hot water sparingly. Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 to 72 hours.
  • Close the doors to rooms you aren’t using to help keep warm.

Winter weather is unpredictable and can change quickly. City Light staff and crews are prepared to respond as quickly and safely as possible. When numerous outages occur, we work strategically and methodically to restore power. Crews are dispatched immediately to fix downed power lines that pose any immediate safety threats before moving on to assist emergency services and facilities critical to public health and safety, such as hospitals, police, and fire. Finally, crews repair areas that will restore power to the largest number of customers and continue working until all customers are back in service.

As always, we appreciate your patience.