Storm & Outage Frequently Asked Questions

When is it safe to approach a power line on the ground, and is it okay to drive over these lines?

It’s never safe to approach a power line that is on the ground! (This is often called a “downed” power line.) Approaching downed power lines can be fatal. You don’t even have to touch a downed line to be electrocuted. Electricity always wants to go to the ground and can reach you through the ground if you get close enough to a downed live wire. Stay at least 30 feet away from any downed line. Call the your local power company immediately, to report the location of any downed line. If the downed line is life-threatening (for example, sparking or on top of an occupied car), call 911.

Some people think it’s okay to drive across downed lines, believing that the rubber in the car tires will protect them. While that is true to some extent as long as you stay inside the car, the greater danger is that the downed wire can become entangled in the car’s axle or wheels. This could cause you to pull down the pole or could prevent you from being able to drive any further. Bottom line: do not drive over downed power lines unless it is a last resort.

Why is my power out but my neighbor still has electricity?

This could be a result of one of the following reasons:

Your home may be served off a different distribution circuit than your neighbor’s home. If this is the case, the circuit serving your neighbor’s home is working as it should, while the circuit serving your home has sustained an outage. This process is similar to when you have a breaker trip or blown fuse at home. The home’s circuit that has the blown fuse or switch will be without power, while the rest of your home will still have power since it is being served by another circuit(s).

Your home may have damage to your overhead service. Sometimes during storms there can be damage to your weatherhead (roof-mounted pole structure) where the electric service comes into the house. Your weatherhead belongs to you, so if it is damaged and in need of repair, it is your responsibility to get a licensed electrician to fix it before the PUD can legally restore power. Once necessary repairs are completed, the power company will send a serviceman to make permanent connections and restore power.

The transformer serving your home may be out of service following an outage restoration if too much electrical load is placed on the transformer when power is restored. When power is restored by the power company after a storm, electrical appliances and heat in homes also start up. When this occurs all at once, service lines and transformers serving individual houses can become overloaded and can cause an outage. It is important for customers to remember to turn off electric stoves and burners, as well as other electrical devices that can be dangerous if unattended when the power is restored. In fact, turn off as much electrical load potential as possible, just keeping a light bulb or two on to let you know when power is back. This ensures your transformer and the electrical lines serving your neighborhood won’t become overloaded and cause a second outage when power is restore.

Why aren’t more details available about outages and when power will be restored?

In general, the power company cannot list specific addresses that are without power, since outages are often widespread throughout. Plus, with ongoing restoration efforts, the location of outages changes very quickly. It is very difficult for the utility to predict how long a specific customer will be without power, due to the sheer number of jobs that need to be completed, changing weather conditions, availability of crews and repair supplies, and a number of other factors. Adding to that, trees that have fallen on power lines or brush that limits access to restoration sites may need to be cleared before repair work can begin. This can often be an all-day job. Often, crews may not be able to estimate how long a job may take until they arrive at the site to begin clearing it for the work.


Do emergency safety issues impact storm restoration? What if I have a wire down on my property? Will a crew respond faster?

The power company gives high priority to emergency situations such as a life in danger. In cases when wires are down, are visibly burning, or are part of a higher voltage primary line, the repairs will receive higher priority. In cases when service lines (going directly to a home) are down on a resident’s property, the power company will make the repair as soon as possible after main or primary lines are restored.

How should customers with medical conditions prepare for potential power outages?

Customers with a medical condition that requires uninterrupted electric service should make plans to assure their safety in the event of a power outage. They should consider acquiring a source of standby power or determine if an emergency generator is available. They may want to make arrangements with friends, relatives or a local agency to transport them to an area where electricity is available. While the PUD strives to provide continuous electric service to customers, it cannot guarantee that occasional power outages or failures occur. During winter months the likelihood of power outages increases due to seasonal storms.

Should I unplug sensitive electronic equipment during a power outage?

Yes. These types of electronics do not handle power surges well, and the return of power after an outage may entail a brief surge of power. In fact, during a power outage, you should also turn off any electric item that was on before the outage except for one light so you know when power is restored. Not only does this protect your appliances, it eases the electrical demand when power is restored.

What types of things should customers keep in their homes in case the power goes out?

Everyone should be prepared for all types of scenarios. Having a good emergency kit available everywhere you spend time. Power outages can last anywhere from a few seconds to weeks. Having enough candles, light sticks and even a generator are essential.


Today in Disaster History

Today in
Disaster History
1972 – In Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, 155 people were killed when a Spantax flight crashed.

1979 – At Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum eleven Who fans were trampled to death in the rush to gain admittance for general (unreserved) seats to the band’s concert.

1984 – In Bhopal, India, more than 2,000 people died and about 150,000 were injured when toxic gas (methyl isocyanate) escaped from a Union Carbide insecticide plant.

1999 – In Worcester, Massachusetts, six firefighters were killed while fighting a fire at a warehouse. The fire had been accidentally set by a homeless couple.


Looking for a great survival kit? Check out this 2 Person Perfect Survival Kit

Today in Disaster History March 15, 2018

Posted by on 3/15/2018 to News
 1974 – In Tehran, Iran, 15 people were killed when a Sterling Airways flight caught fire after the right main landing gear collapsed while preparing to takeoff. Eighty-one people survived the incident.
1999 – In Bourbonnais, IL, a passenger train collided with a truck at a railway crossing. Eleven people were killed and over 100 were injured.

2001 – Off Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a series of explosions on an offshore oil rig killed 11 people.

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Free Survival and Preparedness Manuals

Survival Manuals found on the internet to help you prepare.  Check back for updates.
U.S. Army Survival Manual
Medical Emergencies
Pandemic Flu Citizens Guide
Survival Medicine
Nuclear Survival
Primitive Survival Shelters

Indoor Safety During a Winter Storm

  • Be careful when using wood stoves, fireplaces, or space heaters to heat your home.
  • Avoid using candles during a power outage. Use flashlights or lanterns instead.
  • Never use an electric generator or a gas or charcoal grill indoors. The fumes are deadly. Conserve heat in your home.
  • Monitor body temperature for infants and older adults.
  • Leave water taps slightly open to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Eat well balanced meals to stay warm. Avoid alcohol and caffeine

If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember these safety tips:

  • Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak flue gas into the indoor air space.
  • Have your heating system serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do not burn paper in a fireplace.
  • Ensure adequate ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
  • Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use—don’t substitute.
  • Do not place a space heater within 3 feet of anything that may catch on fire, such as drapes, furniture, or bedding. Never cover your space heater.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
  • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
  • Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
  • Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
  • If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.
  • Store a multipurpose, dry-chemical fire extinguisher near the area to be heated.
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector and never using generators, grills, camp stoves, or similar devices inside the house, in basements, in garages, or near windows
  • Light Your Home Safely

    If there is a power failure:

    • Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns rather than candles, if possible.
    • Never leave lit candles unattended.

    Use Generators Safely

    Generators should be located at least 20 feet from any window, door or vent — preferably in a space where rain and snow does not reach them.

    • Never use an electric generator indoors, in the basement, inside the garage, or near open windows or the air intake of your house because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Plug in appliances to the generator using individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords.
    • Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet because of the risk of electrocution.
    • Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.

    Cook Safely

    • Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors. The fumes are deadly.

    Conserve Heat

    Some gas-fueled heaters, such as vent-less gas fireplaces, require some ventilation. Otherwise, if you don’t need extra ventilation, keep as much heat as possible inside your home.

    • Avoid unnecessarily opening doors or windows.
    • Close off unneeded rooms.
    • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
    • Close draperies or cover windows with blankets at night.

    Monitor Body Temperature


    Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because they lose body heat more easily than adults. Follow these tips to keep your baby safe and warm during the extreme cold:

    • Remove any pillows or other soft bedding. These can present a risk of smothering and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
    • Dress infants in warmer clothing such as footed pajamas, one-piece wearable blankets, or sleep sacks.
    • Try to maintain a warm indoor temperature. If not, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.
    • In an emergency, you can keep an infant warm using your own body heat. If you must sleep, take precautions to prevent rolling on the baby.
    Older Adults

    Older adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity. If you are over 65 years of age:

    • Check the temperature in your home often during extremely cold weather.
    • Check on elderly friends and neighbors frequently to ensure their homes are adequately heated.

    Keep a Water Supply

    Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home to freeze and sometimes rupture. When very cold freezing temperatures are expected:

    • Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
    • Keep the indoor temperature warm.
    • Improve the circulation of heated air near pipes. For example, open kitchen cabinet doors beneath the kitchen sink.

    If your pipes do freeze, do not thaw them with a torch. Instead, thaw them slowly by directing the warm air from an electric hair dryer onto the pipes.

    If you cannot thaw your pipes, or the pipes are ruptured, use bottled water or get water from a neighbor’s home. As an emergency measure, if no other water is available, snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most microorganisms or parasites that may be present but won’t remove chemical pollutants sometimes found in snow.

    Eat and Drink Wisely

    Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages because they cause your body to lose heat more rapidly. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to help maintain your body temperature. If you have any dietary restrictions, ask your doctor.

    Content source:

    • National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH)/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)

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Nuclear Explosion Preparedness

A nuclear blast is an explosion with intense light and heat, a damaging pressure wave, and widespread radioactive material that can contaminate the air, water, and ground surfaces for miles around. A nuclear device can range from a weapon carried by an intercontinental missile, to a small portable nuclear device transported by an individual. All nuclear devices cause deadly effects when exploded. 


The likeliness of an intercontinental missile striking the United States is slim, while the possibility of a portable nuclear device being smuggled into the country is not so far-fetched. Let’s face it, the ware bouts of all the nuclear devices is not clear.  Rouge nations are trying to obtain such a device, many terrorists too would like to have a “bomb” in their possession.  


The CDC said its briefing, which is scheduled for the afternoon of Jan. 16, will address “planning and preparation efforts” for such a strike. The agency said most people “don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation.” 


This comes on the heal of President Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have been engaged in an escalating battle of threats and taunts over their respective nuclear arsenals. A defiant Pyongyang has made major advances to its nuclear program over the past year, and has directly threatened Americans. Trump has responded by saying the U.S. would “totally destroy” the hermit kingdom, a nation of 25 million people, if provoked. It has become a war of male ego when Trump stated “his button was bigger”. 


In the event of an actual nuclear war, “there would be survivors for days trying to make their way out of the rubble and back home, dying of radiation poisoning,” Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear policy expert at Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, previously told HuffPost.  


Hazards of Nuclear Devices 

The danger of a massive strategic nuclear attack on the United States is predicted by experts to be less likely today. However, terrorism, by nature, is unpredictable. 

In general, potential targets include 

  • Strategic missile sites and military bases. 
  • Centers of government such as Washington, DC, and state capitals. 
  • Important transportation and communication centers. 
  • Manufacturing, industrial, technology, and financial centers. 
  • Petroleum refineries, electrical power plants, and chemical plants. 
  • Major ports and airfields. 

The three factors for protecting oneself from radiation and fallout are distance, shielding and time. 

  • Distance – the more distance between you and the fallout particles, the better. An underground area such as a home or office building basement offers more protection than the first floor of a building. Shielding – the heavier and denser the materials – thick walls, concrete, bricks, books and earth – between you and the fallout particles, the better. 
  • Time – fallout radiation loses its intensity fairly rapidly. In time, you will be able to leave the fallout shelter. Radioactive fallout poses the greatest threat to people during the first two weeks, by which time it has declined to about 1 percent of its initial radiation level. 

Taking shelter during a nuclear blast is absolutely necessary. There are two kinds of shelters: 

  • Blast shelters are specifically constructed to offer some protection against blast pressure, initial radiation, heat and fire. But even a blast shelter cannot withstand a direct hit from a nuclear explosion. 
  • Fallout shelters do not need to be specially constructed for protecting against fallout. They can be any protected space, provided that the walls and roof are thick and dense enough to absorb the radiation given off by fallout particles. 

Remember that any protection, however temporary, is better than none at all, and the more shielding, distance and time you can take advantage of, the better. 

Before a Nuclear Blast 

The following are things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your property in the event of a nuclear blast. 

  • Build an Emergency Supply Kit 
  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. 
  • Find out from officials if any public buildings in your community have been designated as fallout shelters. 
  • If your community has no designated fallout shelters, make a list of potential shelters near your home, workplace and school, such as basements, subways, tunnels, or the windowless center area of middle floors in a high-rise building. 
  • During periods of heightened threat increase your disaster supplies to be adequate for up to two weeks. 

During a Nuclear Blast 

The following are guidelines for what to do in the event of a nuclear explosion. 

  • Listen for official information and follow the instructions provided by emergency response personnel. 
  • If an attack warning is issued, take cover as quickly as you can, below ground if possible, and stay there until instructed to do otherwise. 
  • Find the nearest building, preferably built of brick or concrete, and go inside to avoid any radioactive material outside. 
  • If better shelter, such as a multi-story building or basement can be reached within a few minutes, go there immediately. 
  • Go as far below ground as possible or in the center of a tall building. 
  • During the time with the highest radiation levels it is safest to stay inside, sheltered away from the radioactive material outside. 
  • Radiation levels are extremely dangerous after a nuclear detonation but the levels reduce rapidly. 
  • Expect to stay inside for at least 24 hours unless told otherwise by authorities. 
  • When evacuating is in your best interest, you will be instructed to do so. All available methods of communication will be used to provide news and / or instructions. 

If you are caught outside and unable to get inside immediately: 

  • Do not look at the flash or fireball – it can blind you. 
  • Take cover behind anything that might offer protection. 
  • Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit. 
  • Take shelter as soon as you can, even if you are many miles from ground zero where the attack occurred – radioactive fallout can be carried by the winds for hundreds of miles. 
  • If you were outside during or after the blast, get clean as soon as possible, to remove radioactive material that may have settled on your body. 
  • Remove your clothing to keep radioactive material from spreading. Removing the outer layer of clothing can remove up to 90% of radioactive material. 
  • If practical, place your contaminated clothing in a plastic bag and seal or tie the bag. Place the bag as far away as possible from humans and animals so that the radiation it gives off does not affect others. 
  • When possible, take a shower with lots of soap and water to help remove radioactive contamination. Do not scrub or scratch the skin. 
  • Wash your hair with shampoo or soap and water. Do not use conditioner in your hair because it will bind radioactive material to your hair, keeping it from rinsing out easily. 
  • Gently blow your nose and wipe your eyelids and eyelashes with a clean wet cloth. Gently wipe your ears. 
  • If you cannot shower, use a wipe or clean wet cloth to wipe your skin that was not covered by clothing. 

After a Nuclear Blast 

People in most of the areas that would be affected could be allowed to come out of shelter within a few days and, if necessary, evacuate to unaffected areas. The heaviest fallout would be limited to the area at or downwind from the explosion. It might be necessary for those in the areas with highest radiation levels to shelter for up to a month. 

Returning to Your Home 

Remember the following when returning home: 

  • Keep listening to the radio and television for news about what to do, where to go and places to avoid. 
  • Stay away from damaged areas. Stay away from areas marked “radiation hazard” or “HAZMAT.”