Power Outages: Why Do They Happen, and How to Be Prepared

Portland OR and Vancouver WA Metro Area

Man lighting candles in a power outage in Portland ORPortland, Oregon, with its picturesque landscapes and vibrant urban life, is a city known for its unpredictable weather. From heavy rainstorms to winter snowfall, the Pacific Northwest can be an unpredictable place, and power outages are not uncommon. It’s crucial to be well-prepared for such situations to ensure the safety and comfort of your family. But why do they happen, how can you be prepared, and when should you call emergency services? 

Why Is My Power Out? 

Power outages can be pretty alarming for everyone affected. In Portland OR, most people rely heavily on power sources to sustain daily needs: to regulate the temperature of homes, refrigerate food, run appliances, and charge electronics. Whether you’re a residence or a business, if your power suddenly goes down, it could be for any one of these types of power outages: 

  • General Outages: These are unplanned outages caused by wildlife, traffic accidents, equipment issues, natural disasters, and weather-related issues (like wildfire, high wind, and ice). 
  • Scheduled Maintenance: A scheduled outage happens when power is temporarily turned off for planned infrastructure improvement or repair. 
  • Rotating Outages: Commonly referred to as “rolling blackouts” rotating outages are last-resort measures put in place to regulate supply when demand exceeds the availability of power. During a rotating outage, power is temporarily turned off in sections for up to 2 hours to alleviate stress on the power grid and prevent widespread power loss.  
  • Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS): A PSPS can happen as a last resort during extreme weather conditions to protect against a potential wildfire. 

All planned outages should last no more than a couple of hours. Unplanned outages should be reported to your power company. Both are able to be tracked through your power company with estimated times of restoration.  

How Can I Be Prepared? 

In the event of a power outage, here are a few things you can do to mitigate any stress: 

  • Have an Emergency Kit: Consider including flashlights, batteries, glow sticks, battery-powered radios, 3 days’ worth of nonperishable food and bottled water for all your family members (including the furry ones!), hand/feet warmers, and a first aid kit. 
  • Backup Power Source: Consider investing in a backup power source like a generator. Register any electrically powered medical equipment with your power company. 
  • Preserve Perishable Items: Try to avoid opening the refrigerator or freezer doors as much as possible. This allows the appliances to stay at a food-safe temperature for longer.  
  • Communication Plan: Power outages can interrupt phone services, so have a plan on how to contact each other if communication is interrupted. 
  • Home Safety: Unplug or turn off everything but one lamp and the refrigerator/freezer. This will protect sensitive appliances (like your computer) from a possible power surge when power is restored, and the lamp will let you know when power is restored.  

Never use gas ovens, gas ranges, barbecues, or portable propane heaters indoors as a heat source. This can cause carbon monoxide poisoning resulting in suffocation and death.  

When Do I Call Emergency Services? 

You may be tempted to call emergency services as soon as you experience a power loss, but this is discouraged. Power outages can affect upwards of thousands of people at a time, so please leave emergency calls for things such as: 

  • Medical Emergencies: If someone in your household requires electrically powered medical equipment, call 911 immediately.  
  • Downed Power Lines: Do not attempt to move or touch them and call 911 immediately. 
  • Fire or Hazardous Conditions: If you smell gas, see sparks, or suspect a fire, evacuate your home and call 911 from a safe location. 

If you are experiencing an electrical emergency but don’t require 911, don’t hesitate to contact an emergency electrician. 

24/7 Service You Can Rely On 

If you’ve found yourself in need of emergency electrical services, our team at Energized Electric is available to help ensure you always have the support you need. Let us take care of you, and you can rest easy knowing you’re in capable hands. Don’t hesitate to call us today! 

Power Outages: Why Do They Happen, and How to Be Prepared in Portland OR

Serving Portland and Vancouver WA Metro Area

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