Storm safety

Autumn is storm season in the Pacific Northwest; heavy rain and wind can cause downed power lines and fallen trees. These storm safety tips will help to keep you and your family safe this fall.

Top 10 storm safety tips

  1. Create a storm safety kit and keep it handy in case of emergency.
  2. If possible, stay inside during thunderstorms, heavy wind and rain. Lightning, wind and heavy rain can damage power lines, which makes them very dangerous.
  3. If your power goes out, use flashlights, not candles, because candles are a fire hazard during a storm. It is way too easy to knock a candle over in the dark and start a fire.
  4. Stay off of land lines and PCs during a storm.
  5. If your power goes out, call your power company right away. They will track and fix the problem faster with more calls coming in from an area.
  6. Do not use a gas appliance for heat as it can cause a deadly carbon monoxide buildup in your house. Bundle up in layers of clothes instead.
  7. Unplug as many appliances as possible. This will help prevent damage when the power comes back on.
  8. Instruct children not to play near portable generators or heaters.
  9. Stay away from damaged or downed power lines. Since it is impossible to tell if a downed power line is energized, always assume that it is and stay away.*
  10. Keep an eye out for power lines when cleaning up outside after a storm. Sometimes power lines end up running through damaged trees; if you see one call the electric company for help.

*What to do if you see a downed power line

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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