Outage Preparation

Be Prepared Just In Case

linemen working on power line at nightHood River Electric Cooperative’s (HREC’s) mission is to provide members with reliable service – day and night. Employees are constantly at work maintaining equipment, removing trees from rights-of-way, and upgrading the Cooperative’s power system.

Despite our best efforts, severe and unusual weather such as snow, ice, high winds, and lightning can wreak havoc and cause a power outage that can last for hours or days. Even with crews working around the clock, repairs are time-consuming, difficult, and often dangerous.

We have developed a list of suggestions that can help you during the long hours of an outage.

Put together an emergency kit that is easily accessible in case of a lengthy power outage or other natural event. Supplies should include:

  • Flashlight, radio, and fresh batteries. Always keep the batteries separate until you are ready to use them.
  • Candles and matches.
  • Bottled drinking water. Be sure to store at least one gallon per person per day. If a storm is forecast, fill the bathtub with water so bathroom facilities can still be used by pouring a bucket of water down the toilet to create a vacuum flush.
  • Kindling and dry firewood if you have a fireplace or wood stove.
  • Clothing. Wear extra layers and cover your head with a hat. Have sleeping bags and blankets handy too.
  • Easy to prepare food items. Purchase items that don’t require much cooking – canned or instant soups, stews or chili, packaged freeze-dried meals, and protein or breakfast bars are good to have on hand.
  • Gas camp stoves, lanterns, or barbecues. Never use a camp stove or barbecue indoors! Be sure to use any lanterns on a flat, stable, and non-flammable surface. Make sure to have extra fuel for cooking outdoors.
  • Ample supply of essential prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs. During a storm, road travel may not be possible for several days.
  • First aid kit. Make sure that all of the supplies are filled ready to go.
  • Games. Board games and cards are fun and handy to pass the time.

If the lights go off, know what steps to take to be comfortable, safe, and help the Co-op restore service quickly.

What to Do:

  • Check your electrical panel. Look for tripped breakers or blown fuses. Try to reset the breakers by switching them OFF then ON.
  • Call HREC at (541) 354-1233. If the power does not return report it to HREC, there is a 24/7 answering service to take your call. By leaving a message about the outage in your area on this system we are able to process the information and schedule it for restoration in the quickest and safest way possible. Remember to report any flashes, bangs, or trees in lines that can help repair crews locate damage.
  • Turn off major appliances. The water heater and heating system breakers need to be turned off to avoid overloading your circuits when the power is restored. Unplug any voltage-sensitive equipment.
  • Install surge protectors to protect voltage-sensitive equipment. You can purchase high-quality surge protection devices at HREC.
  • Switch on an outside light. This may assist our crews in determining whether or not your power has been restored late into the night.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. Food in a refrigerator will last 12 to 24 hours if the doors are kept closed. A full freezer can last 24 to 48 hours. Helpful hint: You can drape a sleeping bag over your refrigerator or freezer for added insulating value in case of an extended power outage.
  • Listen to radio reports. Keep either a battery-operated or battery-free (hand crank) radio on hand for emergencies. During an extended outage, please listen to the local radio stations for updates and information.

What Not to Do:

  • Never go near or touch a downed power line.
  • Never wire a portable generator directly into your electrical panel.

Remember these tips during an extended outage. It’s easier on everyone involved. This information is very important.

  • Please let the repair crews do their job. It’s tempting to stop crews and ask questions about when the power is going to be restored, but this only delays the restoration process. Remember that while the crews want to be helpful, they also want to restore your power quickly so they too can get home to their families.
  • Be a good neighbor. Severe storms usually increase the number of accidents and medical problems. Remember this increases the response time for service agencies. You may want to organize people in your area to check on each other and lend assistance.
  • If not used correctly, portable generators can cause fatal accidents involving the workers on the lines. Plug appliances into the generator. Do not connect household breaker circuits to the generator without a “double-throw switch” installed by a licensed electrician.
  • Emergency water sources. Runoff from rooftops can be collected and used for washing, but do not drink it. A water heater can supply drinking water. Be sure the breaker is OFF before you drain it, and be sure to fill it before turning the breaker back on.
  • Keep the freezer full. Milk jugs filled with water and placed in a half-full freezer can be a supply of both water and ice in an emergency. Also, it will keep the freezer colder longer if it is full. Check into purchasing dry ice to help prevent spoilage.