National Preparedness Month week 5 – bonus week - prepare for disaster

Release date: 09/29/2021
Sponsored by: County Emergency Management Department

National preparedness month week 5 - prepare for disaster

 

Many types of emergencies – like thunderstorms, earthquakes, floods and wildfires can cause your home to lose power. Your power company may even decide to proactively shut off your power to reduce the possibility of a wildfire starting because of the power lines in your community. Since there are so many possible causes of a power outage, it is very important to prepare for them now.

Preparing for a power outage includes making sure your emergency food kit is up to date, making sure you have a backup light source, learning about food safety, identifying items in your home that need power and even making sure you have things like games, puzzles or books to keep you and your family entertained when there is no internet or TV.

Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events are becoming more frequent. With the threat of wildfires increasing, utility companies monitor the weather, drought conditions and other factors to determine if an area could be at risk of a wildfire because of energized power lines. When they decided to do a PSPS, they will notify you through email, text, social media and other emergency notification systems if your home will be impacted by the shut off. If you are a PGE customer, you can use the map on their website to determine if your address is inside an area that is at higher risk for a safety-related outage.

Ready.gov has a list of tips for during a power outage:

  1. Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain a cold temperature.
    • The refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours if it is unopened
    • full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed.
  2. If you have a generator, make sure to use it outdoors and away from windows.
  3. Do not use a gas stove or oven to heat your home.
  4. Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.
  5. Have alternate plans for refrigerating medications and using power-dependent medical devices.
  6. If it’s hot, check with local officials about cooling centers open near you.

To learn more about food safety during and after power outages, watch this short video from the FDA.

Activity: Make a list of items that rely on power and talk with your family about how power loss would impact your daily life and if there’s any way to access backup power.

Here’s some ideas to get your started:

  • Cellphones – if you have a portable charger, those could help as long as they’ve been charged ahead of time
  • Water heater – some water heaters use natural gas, while others use electricity; knowing which is in your home will let you know if you’re in for some cold showers.
  • Medical devices - these could include, but are not limited to, CPAP and other sleeping machines, chair lifts in stairwells, nebulizers, feeding equipment and ventilators
  • Lights in your home – do you have flashlights or lanterns? (The National Fire Protection Association cautions against using candles for light, because they can lead to house fires.)
  • Wi-Fi – your internet router uses electricity to connect your devices to wi-fi. How necessary is using the internet for several hours or days in your household? Can you go without it? Or should you consider coffee shops, libraries or hotspots?
  • Oven/stove – some ovens and stoves use natural gas, while others use electricity. If you have one that runs on electricity, you’ll need to come up way to cook. Do you have a camp stove you can set up outside? Does your emergency kit have protein bars and other foods that can be eaten cold? What other options do you have that do not require cooling indoors?

If one of the items you identified are medical devices, here are some tips and questions to consider:

  • Contact your electrical company to see if they have a program to help people with power-dependent devices. Many utility companies have a database of customers who need to be prioritized when the power goes out. Signing up for this can mean your power gets turned back on quicker after a shut off.
  • Questions to help you prepare:
    • How long can you go before you need to use the device?
    • Is there somewhere else you can go to get power?
    • Do you have, or are you able to afford a small generator to power your equipment?
    • Does the device have a built in back up power source?
    • Do you have extra charged batteries?
    • Can you work with your doctor to identify non-electricity dependent alternatives?

Media Contact:

Alita Fitz, Emergency Management Coordinator
5038467588
Alita_fitz@co.washington.or.us