Pacific Power is implementing a new fire-safety measure called the Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), where the company shuts down power to at-risk areas during dangerous weather conditions that could cause wildfires.
Visit www.pacificpower.net/wildfiresafety for details on the PSPS and Pacific Power’s wildfire safety measures.
While Pacific Power has stated that the measure is intended only as a last resort, it does mean that Hood River residents could potentially face significant periods without power this summer.
Below is a compilation of tips from Hood River County Health, Oregon Health Authority and the American Red Cross on how to prepare for and stay safe during a long-term power outage.
Things to do now
Sign up for Hood River County’s emergency notification program at www.hoodriversheriff.com/events/emergency-alerts.
Alert Pacific Power of any electric or battery-dependent medical needs, such as breathing machines, a power wheelchair, home oxygen, dialysis, or life support. Call 1-888-227-7070, or visit www.pacificpower.net to fill out a contact form.
Pacific Power customers should update their contact information. Call 1-888-221-7070 or visit www.pacificpower.net and sign into your account.
Things to do during a power outage
Keep your cell phone charged, turn off automatic updates and non-essential notifications, close all non-essential apps, and keep your phone turned off or put in low power mode. Text can work for communication when cell services are overwhelmed with phone calls.
Keep your fridge closed as much as possible and throw out any food that’s been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or more, or any food that has unusual odor, color or texture. An unopened fridge will keep its temperature for approximately four hours, and a half-filled freezer will keep its temperature for about 24 hours — 48 hours for a full freezer — if it remains closed. If it looks like the power outage will last longer than a day, the Red Cross recommends preparing a cooler with ice for freezer items to make them last longer.
Keep shades drawn and use blankets or sheets to cover windows in direct sun. Opening windows at night can help keep the place cool.
Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment and appliances, since surges or spikes can damage equipment when the power comes back on (the Red Cross recommends leaving one light turned on so you can tell when the power is back).
When using a portable generator, connect equipment directly to the outlets on the generator — don’t try to connect it to the home’s electrical system. (Generators, grills, camp stoves and other gasoline, propane, natural-gas or charcoal-burning devices do release carbon monoxide — so keep these devices outside and away from doors, windows and vents. Battery-powered devices, with a stock of extra batteries, are generally a safe option.)
Watch out for heat-related illness. Stay inside, stay hydrated, and avoid excessive physical activity. Also watch out for pets and livestock — in hot weather, with fur, they are particularly susceptible to heat. See the infographic for details on how to recognize and treat heat-related illnesses.
Things to have
Backup cell phone battery.
A small AM/FM battery-operated radio or a VHF/UHF radio — these may work if a cell phone does not.
A headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries.
A supply of lithium AA and AAA batteries.
A power pack for your cell phone: It can be small, enough for one charge, or larger, which will give you 2-3 full charges.
A solar charger or a dynamo (hand crank) charger.
A gas or diesel generator is ideal for long term use, but make sure you store spare fuel properly and be extremely careful about generator use with building power.
At least a week’s supply of all needed medications.
For devices such as CPAP machines and oxygen condensers, keep a backup battery or a backup device. Most oxygen companies will provide bottled oxygen to use in the event of a power failure.
A gallon of water per person per day should suffice, but you may need more in hot weather or for physical activity (remember your hot water tank will be full of potable water).
Backup water purification: Chlorine dioxide tablets, a UV light pen and mobile water filter products available for use in camping or emergencies are all viable options.
Three days non-perishable food: This can can be canned goods, pouches, tins or dry storage. Keep rotating these through your regular meals so they don’t expire. Some ideas include canned seafood, dried meat, powdered milk, pouches of precooked meals, granola bars, canned beans and vegetables and soups.
A small propane or isobutane stove, such as those used for camping, can be used for cooking, but is not a huge priority. If you have an outdoor barbecue, keep the propane tank filled and consider a spare tank. Do not bring the barbecue indoors.
Baby wipes and alcohol gel available for cleaning hands to preserve water.
Keep flashlights and lanterns in easy-to-grab places, like near the front door, under the sink, and one in every room.
Candles come in handy but can be a fire hazard.
Keep some cash on hand, since credit cards may not work for gasoline or groceries.
Keep your gas tank full — a good rule is to never let it drop below a half-tank — and keep a small emergency kit in your car in case you are away from home during a power failure or stuck on the road.