Friday, January 22, 2021

Power’s out? Be prepared

| January 14, 2021 1:00 AM

‘Tis the season — for power outages.

North Idahoans are well used to them, thanks to high winds like yesterday’s. Other than keeping flashlights with fresh batteries and board games on standby (lemons into lemonade equals fond memories), there are a few other things Avista Utilities recommends to stay safe, as well as be prepared for next time.

Outage safety checklist

·Turn off all appliances you think were on before the outage.

·Unplug electronics, phones, and computers.

·Leave a porch light on so you (and repair workers) can tell when power's back on.

·Keep refrigerator doors closed to prevent spoilage. Frozen food should be okay for a day, and food in the fridge about four hours.

·Keep the thermostat set low, until a half hour after power comes back on.

·Avoid candles; they're fire hazards.

·Don’t wire an emergency generator into your home electrical system. Its backfeed into power lines could injure a lineman working to get electricity restored.

·Don’t go near downed power lines.

Plan ahead

·Circuit breakers. This should be the first thing you check in an outage, so before the next one find it (it’ll be dark when you need it), practice by flipping all the breakers to the off position, then back on.

·Meters. Know where your meter is and what it looks like when it’s working. If you have an outage and the display is blank, that means it’s not getting power and you should report an outage. If you have multiple meters, write down the meter number (center of the meter) and where they serve (e.g. garage, house, shop). Knowing that may reduce repair times when you report.

·Emergency supplies. Keep these in one place: Flashlights with fresh batteries; portable, battery-powered radio for public announcements; a wind-up or battery-powered clock; water and nonperishable food; manual can opener; and powered battery packs for phones and computers. Keep fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors working and with fresh batteries. Have portable generators or back up medical equipment options for special needs.

·Practice using garage and security doors manually.

·Use surge protectors on sensitive electronics such as computers, TVs and appliances.

·Remember ignitions in gas stoves use electricity to alight; electric fans and central heating, dryers and more won’t work, so have back up plans and reserves in case outages last days.

Stay safe! For more information see

Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network with fond memories of a dimly lit family scrabble marathon one very blustery day – no phones, no interruptions, lots of laughs.