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Jan. 29, 2023

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Energy Adviser: Get ready for winter outages

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Morning frost and heavy clouds mean only one thing: Winter is on the way and some big storms are not far behind.

Despite Clark Public Utilities’ year-round proactive vegetation management, trees and falling limbs are responsible for half of the outages experienced in Clark County, and those number spike this time of year.

Most customers, especially those living in and around urban areas, are highly unlikely to experience more than a blink, every household should be prepared for an extended outage and other emergencies.

Making a plan and assembling an outage/emergency kit doesn’t take much time or any specialized knowledge.

“A plan ensures the whole household knows what to do or where to go when something happens. A kit includes the supplies they need to get by for a few days,” said Clark Public Utilities Emergency and Environment Coordinator Chrystal Jones. “These simple instructions and everyday items will be invaluable if your family has to react quickly after something goes wrong.”

When making a plan, be sure everyone in the household knows how to get in touch with one another, where to go and who they should check in on. It’s also smart to include other important information about pets or household items. It’s also smart to write this information down and include it in your kit.

An outage kit is easy to assemble with items already available at home. Kits don’t have to be complicated, just large enough for three days’ worth of supplies for everyone in the home.

To start, make a list of everything your family may need but won’t have access to during an outage or if you have to leave home temporarily. Remember, outages will affect more than just the lights.

Start with a sturdy container and consider decorating it with glow-in-the-dark paint or stickers so it’s easy to find when the lights go out.

Every outage kit should have flashlights, extra batteries and even a power bank for electronic devices. Next, include some nonperishable food, a manual can opener and potentially a way to prepare meals. It’s also smart to include a small radio for important updates. A first aid kit is essential and should include important medications. Consider your family’s specific needs — diapers, pet food, etc., and place those in your kit. Finally, keep nearby at least one gallon of water per person per day for up to three days.

Having extra coolers and ice on hand is a good idea as well. Typically, food should be fine during an outage of two hours or less, provided the fridge is kept closed. During a longer outage consider putting in some ice or switching to coolers.

“Don’t overlook your car in your plans. They’re a great place to get warm, charge devices and get to safety,” Jones said. “Just remember to keep at least a half a tank of gas at all times. Fuel might be hard to come by during a major event.”

More information on outage kits is available at the Clark Public Utilities and Red Cross websites, and ready.gov and cdc.gov/disasters/winter.

If there’s an outage at your home or business tell Clark Public Utilities with a call to 360-992-8000 or find a link to the digital reporting tool at ClarkPublicUtilities.com.


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.

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