Wind. Rain. Snow. Ice. When winter hits Oregon, we’re prepared and ready to help keep you connected. Are you ready? Here’s what you need to know about staying safe around electricity during a storm and preparing for potential outages.
Downed line? Stay far back and call us immediately at 503-464-7777 in Portland, or 800-544-1795
Stormy clouds or sunny skies, we are proud to power your day in Oregon!
Preparing for winter and storms
Get ready for potential storms in three easy steps
Preparing your home and your family for storms and possible outages is pretty easy. We’ve prepared a list of three easy steps that you can do in a couple of hours to make sure you’re ready when the wind, rain ice, or snow hits your neighborhood.
Step One: Create an outage kit
Gather together the items your family would need to stay safe and comfortable if the power goes out:
- Flashlights and battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- Extra batteries
- Car chargers for cell phones and laptop or tablet computers
- A battery-powered clock
- Emergency phone numbers including PGE outage numbers
- Bottled water (if you rely on electricity to pump water)
- First aid kit
- A manual can opener
- Disposable plates and utensils
- Extra blankets or sleeping bags
- Battery-powered camp lantern
- Comfort items like playing cards, games or favorite books
Step Two: Create a storm checklist
The thrill (and potential inconvenience) of a storm forecast can distract you from the things you need to do to get ready. If you create a storm checklist today, it can be a great resource when and if a storm is approaching to help you make sure you and your family are prepared. And if you don’t yet have a storm checklist at work, consider pulling your team together and creating one, customized to your workplace and team’s needs. Your home checklist should include the following reminders:
- Confirm how to report an outage so you’ll be ready to let us know if one occurs
- Check on elderly or impaired neighbors or relatives, if possible, before the storm, to see if they need help
- If you need access to your garage during an outage, make sure you know how to operate the manual release lever on your automatic garage door
- Test your home’s carbon monoxide and smoke alarms
- Confirm the storm safety rules for your home
- If you have a backup generator, review tips for where and how to use generators safely during an outage
- If you are considering using grills or other gasoline-, propane- or charcoal-burning devices for cooking, keep it outside, away from garages or carports to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
- If you plan to use your car to recharge your phone, tablet, or other devices during an outage, make sure your car is not in a garage or carport, so that you can keep the car running without risking buildup of deadly carbon monoxide
- If your home includes medical equipment that requires electricity, be sure to do the following:
- Make a list of family and friends who can help you, including an out-of-town contact, if possible
- If you will need to transfer to a hospital or other location, pre-arrange transportation so that they’ll know to automatically come to you under certain conditions (and you won’t have to depend on phones or computers to contact them during an outage)
- Confirm that your life-support equipment is plugged in to a surge protector
- If your equipment has a battery backup system, make sure it is fully charged
- If you have a backup generator, test the system to make sure it’s ready if power goes out
Step Three: Review the storm safety tips with your family and/or roommates—today!
Never assume that everyone in your home understands the importance of storm preparedness and the safety rules. Once you’ve built your outage kit and created your storm checklist, schedule a storm chat to make sure everyone in the home knows:
- Where to find the outage kit
- How to report an outage
- Where to find the storm checklist
- Discuss who is responsible for each item on the checklist
- Discuss when/how you’ll use the checklist
- How to follow the safety rules if there’s an outage
- Discuss how and where you will safely recharge your devices
- Discuss how and where you will safely use generators and grills
- Discuss any other safety rules specific to your home
Before a storm
If you know a storm is on the way, the work you’ve done to prepare will make things go much more smoothly. Follow these steps when a storm is near:
- Pull out your storm safety kit and make sure you have the supplies you need
- Review the storm checklist with your family and complete each item on the list, and give yourself plenty of time to prepare, especially if you have medical needs that require electricity
- Unplug non-vital appliances to avoid damage if there is an unexpected power surge
During a storm
Safety is our number one priority, and we want to be sure you know how to keep your family and your home safe during winter storms.
Power line safety
Please report a downed line immediately by calling PGE at 503-464-7777 or 800-544-1795
Always stay away from any sagging or downed power lines. Even if you don’t see sparks, you must always assume that power lines are energized. Not even PGE employees can identify an energized line just by looking at it. Did you know that a downed line can be dangerous even if you’re not touching it? Keep in mind the following:
- A downed line doesn’t have to spark to be dangerous.
- Electricity can travel from a power line to you through water, metal, tree branches, concrete and other materials that are touching the wire.
- If a wire falls on your car, stay inside. The tires act as an insulator, keeping you safe until help arrives and the power is cut off.
- If there is a reason you have to get out of the car (for example, if your car has caught fire), do the following to make sure you never touch the ground and the electrified car at the same time:
- Jump clear of the car with both feet together
- DO NOT touch the car when you are touching the ground
- After you’re free of the car, DO NOT walk or take any steps
- Keep your feet together at all times
- Shuffle or hop far away from the vehicle and power line
What to do in an outage
Once the power goes out, you have some steps to take to protect your possessions and help get the power back on.
First and foremost, you need to report the outage to PGE. While waiting for power to return, use flashlights or battery-operated lanterns instead of candles, to avoid fire risks.
Next, it’s important to protect your electrical equipment from power-surge damage and prevent overloading the system when power is restored. For major appliances, like stoves, refrigerators and TVs, turn off the breaker at the breaker box. For other electrical equipment, like toasters and gaming systems, either unplug the device or turn off its breaker.
Finally, since you don’t know how long the power will be out, don’t open your fridge unless absolutely necessary to help preserve your food.
It’s also helpful to turn on one outside light and one inside light so you and PGE crews will know when service is restored.
There are a few instances where you should call us back to report changes in the outage area:
- If your neighbor’s power comes back on but yours does not
- If your lights are very dim or bright once power is restored, first turn off the power at the breaker or fuse box to help protect your equipment, then call PGE
After a storm
Once your power is back on and the storm has passed, take a few moments before you get back to your regular routine to complete the following tasks:
- Check on your neighbors again to make sure they are safe and have what they need
- Replace any items from your outage kit that you used during the storm
- Throw away any food that has spoiled during an outage
- Check with your doctor if you have any concerns about medication that has gone without refrigeration during an outage