As beautiful as the snow and wintry weather is this time of year, it can also create unexpected hitches in our celebrations as well as our day-to-day lives.
That’s why we thought it would be a good time to talk about what to do in case the power goes out at your house. Well, actually this column is primarily going to talk about what to do before the power goes out. That’s because it turns out, like so many other things, preparation is your best defense for disaster.
The storm of 2007 startled most of us away from the notion of a power outage being only a few hours of cozy inconvenience and made us realize how truly disrupting and potentially dangerous storms, power outages and people’s reactions to them can be.
We recently talked with Tracy Dugas, administrative service coordinator at the Grays Harbor (PUD), who provided some excellent information on what to do when the power goes out and how to prepare yourself ahead of time.
SHOULD YOU CALL WHEN POWER GOES OUT?
The PUD has an outage hotline you can call to let them know of a power outage. The number is 360-537-3721 or toll free at 1-888-541-5923.
Those numbers are only for use to report or learn about an outage; they are not for customer service questions. For general PUD business, contact customer service at 360-532-4220.
However almost always, Tracy said, the PUD is already aware that your power is out and is working as quickly and safely as possible to restore it.
For those of you who have been frustrated before with how long it takes to get through to a person or even a recording when reporting an outage, you’ll be glad to hear that the PUD is working hard to improve that. More lines and more folks staffing the phones are one way they’re working on better customer service.
But that’s not the only thing they’re doing. The forward-thinking PUD has a couple new ways to let you know that they are aware of power outages. One way is to sign up to receive “tweets” of outages.
If you don’t already have a Twitter account you need to sign up for one. Once you have a Twitter account you can set the settings on your account to receive GHPUD tweets on your cell phone or computer. If you do choose to have the tweets received on your phone then text charges apply.
Another way to learn about outage information is to go to the PUD website at ghpud.org and sign up to receive outage alerts directly from the PUD. On the website, you need to click “receive outage alerts.”
Once again you will have a choice whether to receive those alerts on your cell phone as a text message or on your computer.
The PUD’s website explains these options more fully.
Also, some folks have dropped their phone land lines. For those folks, or the people who just always have their cell phones at the ready, it may be worth a call to customer service (360-532-4220) ahead of time to make sure your PUD account is linked to the phone number — perhaps a cell number — that you want it to be. This option didn’t exist before and for many will be a great help.
PROTECT KEY EQUIPMENT
Another thing you can do now is purchase quality surge protector devices.
“If you have something of quality you want to protect, say a high end TV, you’ll want to buy a high end surge protector,” said Tracy, explaining that not all surge protectors are created equal.
If your appliance or electronic device is ruined when the power comes back on, it’s up to your home owner’s or renter’s insurance to cover it. As a public entity, the PUD cannot use ratepayers money to pay for damages when it is not at fault, explained Tracy.
So, as you shop for new or even just appreciate what your old electronics mean to you, a new surge protector is needed to protect your investment.
If you’re buying a gift of a new computer or TV, consider including a suitable new surge protector to go with it.
LIVE WIRES, GENERATORS
We have more to say about staying safe in a power outage — most will have to wait until next week’s column. But, until next week we leave you with three safety reminders:
1. Always stay away from any downed power lines and assume they are live and dangerous.
2. If you use a generator always do so following the manufacturer’s directions. Pay close attention to having it placed so that the exhaust cannot enter your home.
3. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Make sure yours are working properly.
WATER CHRISTMAS TREE
Just because it’s been cold, doesn’t mean your natural Christmas tree doesn’t need water. In fact, you should be watering it every day to prevent it from becoming a fire hazard. Right now is as good a time as any.
Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.
Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen