Preparing for Power Outages

We all rely on electricity. It powers our everyday world. Interruptions to service can be inconvenient and frustrating. That’s why your Grays Harbor PUD is constantly working to prevent outages year round. But even with a well-maintained, reliable system, its impossible to prevent all outages. Preparing for an outage can help minimize the impact.
Before the power goes out:
There are a few things you can do to prepare for outages.

  • Prepare an outage kit including:
    • Flashlight
    • Blankets
    • Fresh Batteries
    • Sleeping bags
    • Battery-operated radio
    • Candles
    • Supply of drinking water
    • Candleholders
    • Non-perishable food
    • Non-cordless, landline phone
    • Manual can opener
  • If you have an automatic garage door opener, learn how to open it manually.
  • Protect sensitive electrical equipment with surge suppressors.

What to do when the power goes out:

  • Check to see if other houses in your neighborhood are dark. If you are the only house without power, check your service panel or breaker box for tripped breakers or blown fuses.
  • If power is out to your area, use your landline phone (if possible) and call the Grays Harbor PUD Outage Reporting Hotline at 360-537-3721 or 1-888-541-5923. Follow the instructions provided on the automated system.
  • Leave an outdoor light switched on as well as a light inside your home, so both you and our crews will know when your electricity has been restored.
  • Turn down your thermostat and turn off your water heater circuit breaker. This will help reduce demand for electricity when power is restored. If the demand is too great, the system will overload and cause the power to go off again.
  • Turn off and unplug all sensitive electrical equipment such as computers, television sets, stereos and microwave ovens. It will protect your equipment in case there is a change in voltage as the power comes back on. It’s also a good idea to use a surge suppressor to protect your electronic equipment. Major appliances that are too large for a surge suppressor (microwaves, refrigerators, washing machines, ranges, and dryers) should be unplugged or powered off at the breaker panel.
  • Once your power has been restored, wait at least 20 minutes before turning equipment on. Sometimes there’s a fluctuation in voltage when electricity is restored.
  • Keep freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible so the cold air stays inside until the power comes back on. Food will stay frozen in a full freezer for about two days and for about one day if the freezer is half full. The thawing rate depends on what kind of food is in the freezer (meat will stay frozen longer than baked goods). You can use dry ice to keep food frozen for a longer period of time.
  • If your water pump is powered by electricity, an outage could restrict your water use. Conserve water and store as much as possible in closed or covered containers, preferably somewhere where it won’t freeze.
  • Don’t burn charcoal briquettes indoors – not even in your fireplace.
  • Don’t operate a generator indoors.
  • To ensure your safety, avoid areas where PUD crews are working.

Be Safe! Outage Do’s and Don’ts:
Downed Power Lines are Dangerous!

  • Never approach or touch a downed power line. Always assume downed lines are “live” even if they aren’t sparking.
  • If a power line falls across your vehicle while you are inside of it, DO NOT GET OUT. Wait for help to arrive.
  • If you must leave your car because of fire or other danger, do not step out of the car. If you touch the car and the ground at the same time, you will be shocked. Instead, jump clear, land with your feet together, and shuffle away keeping both feet together and on the ground.
  • If you see a downed line, call the Grays Harbor PUD at (360) 532-4220 immediately.

Portable Generators-What you need to know.

  • Never operate a portable generator indoors. Exhaust gasses can be deadly.
  • Always operate generators according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Route extension cords from the generator to prevent tripping in the darkened house, but never run them under a rug or otherwise concealed where cord damage could go unnoticed.
  • Consult the operator’s manual for both the appliance and the generator to correctly size the extension cords and keep from overloading the system. Improperly sized extension cords are extreme fire hazards.
  • If you are operating a generator during a power outage, you may be asked by the Grays Harbor PUD to turn off the generator as they prepare to restore power to your home or business. It is critical that generators are turned off to ensure the safety of workers.

Be Careful with Candles!
Be cautious with the use of candles. Never leave a candle burning unattended.

Do you need to update your phone number?

Power outages happen. Sometimes its stormy weather that causes outages, sometimes it’s a car-pole collision, sometimes an unfortunate squirrel picking the wrong place and time to do a high-wire act. Whatever the cause, your PUD will respond as quickly as possible and you can help. The PUD is equipped with an automated system that allows us to track incoming reports of power outages. In addition, this system provides customers with information about the status of outages we are already aware of. It’s an easy way for your PUD to communicate important information to you when all of the sudden you find yourself in the dark.

If you have changed your phone number please call the PUD at 532-4220 to update your account information with your new phone number. This will ensure when you enter your home phone number into the outage reporting system, the system will be able to locate the address of the outage. Entering a phone number not currently associated with your account address may cause delays in responding to an outage.

Here are a few quick tips to remember when calling the outage hotline:

  • When the power goes out, call the Hotline number a 360-537-3721 or 1-888-541-5923. Please do not use the Hotline number for customer service questions. For billing inquiries or general PUD business, contact customer service at 532-4220.
  • Listen to the latest information about current outages the PUD is already responding to. Time estimates for restoration of power are general estimates and can change depending on conditions. The recording provides information on major outages. Small-scattered outages may not be listed individually.
  • If you hear information on your outage, please hang up. Don’t leave a message (including questions regarding the cause of your outage or restoration time) if we already know about your outage, because it can cause delays in restoring power.
  • If you don’t hear information about the outage you are experiencing, enter your home phone number when prompted by the system and leave message providing information on the outage (if you know a cause). The number you enter must match the phone number you provided as part of your account information with the Grays Harbor PUD. Please do not enter cell phone numbers or other phone numbers unless they are associated with your account at the outage address.
  • Once you have entered your home phone number the system will automatically match the number to your home address and alert our dispatch center that there is a new outage. Please don’t leave a message.

Grays Harbor PUD will remove trees that are directly under, or so close to our energized primary lines that they may pose an electrical hazard, or are unlawful for an otherwise qualified contractor to remove. Branches and chips will be hauled away, and large pieces of wood may be left for the owner’s use. Trees close to power lines that are severely leaning, dead, decayed, or pose a hazard to power lines may be removed by Grays Harbor PUD. We reserve the right to refuse removal of any tree that may be safely removed by a qualified tree worker when no electrical hazard exists or there is not possibility of damage to the electrical system.

Trimming for services to residences and private lights is the responsibility of the customer. Grays Harbor PUD will trim branches and limbs that in the PUD’s opinion pose a potential hazard, to clear them from service wires that run from pole to pole, including the first ten feet of service wire from the power pole to the residence. Grays Harbor PUD will not remove trees or large branches. In order to reduce the risk of electrical hazards, Grays Harbor PUD will drop your service wire and reconnect it after your qualified contractor has completed their tree work. There is no charge for this service, but 48 hours advance notice is required to schedule crews.

If a customer damages District equipment while removing trees or vegetation, the homeowner will be financially responsible for the cost to repair those damages. The estimated minimum cost for a two-man service crew to repair a service line during regular work hours is $145; and if that crew is called out after hours or on weekends, the estimated minimum is $235. Should the felled tree result in damage to the District’s primary line and/or associated equipment, the repair cost could amount to several thousand dollars. In the long run, it is prudent to call the PUD for assistance if the problem tree is in close proximity to District power lines.

Except for services to residences as described above, Grays Harbor PUD will trim all trees and vegetation around energized power lines, fiber optic cables, utility poles and pad mount transformers. It is important to keep alleys and right of ways clear of plants and debris, so crews may perform maintenance or emergency functions safely. Trees that are trimmed next to distribution lines are done so in a manner that will provide proper clearances, promote growth away from power lines, and leave the customer with a well-trimmed tree. Grays Harbor PUD contract crews follow I.S.A. and ANSI standards for pruning where possible. Unfortunately, some species are not suitable around power lines and continued trimming on these types of trees may not always look appealing.

Grays Harbor PUD strives to maintain sufficient line clearances, but due to weather conditions, tree vigor, species type, and a number of other variables, some trees may reach our primary distribution before their next scheduled trim cycle. If you have a tree or know of one that has grown into the power lines, or feel the tree is dead, decaying, or presents a hazard to the electrical system, call Grays Harbor PUD at 360-538-6284. A tree work request form will be filled out. An inspector will be sent to examine the tree and its position relative to our power line and determine the best course of action. Should a tree need to be removed, an owner removal card will be left for you to sign. Grays Harbor PUD prioritizes each request with emergency and hazardous situations taking precedence. Your tree requests are important to us. Please be patient, and your concerns will be addressed.

If you need more information, please call Grays Harbor PUD at 360-538-6284.