fall storms

With fall fast approaching it is time to start thinking about keeping your family and home safe when the inevitable Pacific Northwest fall storms hit. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is doing their part by trimming back trees near power lines and installing electric cable specifically designed to withstand branches, thereby reducing power outages.

What can homeowners do to prepare their homes and keep their families safe from fall storms?

Inspect and clean the home’s gutters and downspouts. Gutters and downspouts can become clogged with debris, especially if the property is surrounded by deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the fall. Debris keeps rainwater from flowing to the ground where it should go. Clogged downspouts and gutters can cause roof, window, foundation and siding damage; not to mention slip and fall accidents.

Clean branches and debris from the yard and trim back/cut down dying trees before fall storms hit. Clear out debris and remove dead plants – especially trees – from your property before the weather turns. Without a clean-up effort, all that debris would be flying around your yard and smacking into your house when fall storms hit. If a dying tree falls onto your house there could be considerable damage.

Additional storm preparation tips:

  • Create and store an emergency kit and food that can be eaten without cooking.
  • During a storm, unplug expensive equipment such as TVs and computers.
  • If possible, purchase a generator. Click here for generator safety tips.
  • Click here for flood safety tips.

What to do during a fall storm

  • If you find yourself in a power outage call PSE right after turning off light switches.
    • Use flashlights, not candles to reduce the risk of house fire
    • Only open your freezer or refrigerator when absolutely necessary to preserve food for as long as possible
    • Do not use a gas range or BBQ for indoor heating
    • If your indoor temperature goes below 55 degrees turn faucets on to a drip to prevent frozen pipes
  • In an emergency you can turn off your natural gas at the main gas service shutoff valve. Only turn your natural gas off if you smell gas, hear gas escaping or see a broken gas line. Call Cascade Natural Gas if you suspect a gas leak.

What to do if you see a downed power line during a storm

Energized power lines charge the ground near the point of contact and may electrocute you or a pet. If a person or pet comes into contact with a downed power line, stay clear and do not touch them or the wire.

If you see a downed utility wire of any kind take the following steps:

  • Stay as far away as you can.
  • Back away; do not drive over downed power lines. Even if the power line is not energized, the wires can become entangled with your vehicle and cause damage.
  • Stay in your car.
  • Call 911 or the utility company who serves that location. For Puget Sound Energy, call 1-888-225-5773. Leave the work to utility professionals and emergency personnel.
  • If you must evacuate on foot, jump away and land with both feet together. Keep your feet together and take small, shuffling steps until you are at least 35 feet away from the wires. Larger steps can also create a path for electricity to run through you.
  • If exiting a vehicle, do not touch the vehicle while stepping on the ground as this can create a path for electricity to run through you.

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