Be Prepared for an Outage

Be Prepared for an Outage

Know what to do when the power goes out

No matter how well maintained and reliable our electric service is, harsh weather conditions can cause outages. Even though Pend Oreille PUD’s crews work hard to restore power as quickly as possible, outages are much easier to live with if you’re prepared.


Having an outage safety kit is a great way to prepare for potential outages. The following items may be useful during outages:

  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Candles, candle holders, and matches
  • Safe, alternative source of heat
  • Sleeping bags and blankets
  • Bottled water
  • Food that does not require cooking
  • First aid supplies
  • Corded phone (Your cordless phone won’t work in an outage.)

Know how to manually open and close any electric security or garage doors and gates.
Protect electric equipment, such as computers, fax machines, televisions, VCRs and microwaves, by installing surge suppressors or other power protection devices.

Have a battery back-up system if your smoke alarms are wired to your home electrical system.

Have an emergency plan in place if a member of your household depends on life-support or needs other medical equipment. This may include a back-up power source or transportation to another facility.

  • If it is an emergency (lines sparking, lines on your car) please call 911 first
  • Check to see if your neighbors have electricity
    • If they do, check your service panel or breaker box to rule out problems with electricity inside your home
  • Visit the Check Outage Status page to see if your neighbor has already reported the outage
  • Call the PUD to report the outage at:(509) 447-3137, (509) 446-3137, or (509) 242-3137
  • Turn off and unplug all sensitive electric equipment
  • Turn down your thermostat and shut-off major electric appliances
    • This will help to stabilize the electric system when power is restored
  • Turn off the circuit breaker for your electric water heater
  • Open refrigerators and freezers as little as possible
    • A freezer will keep food frozen without power for several days, as long as the door remains shut
  • If your house can be seen from the road, leaving one outside light turned on will help PUD line crews know that your power is restored

During larger outages, our phones experience a high volume of calls. If you don't want to wait on the phone, you can leave a message with your account number or address so we can log it in our system.

Wait a few minutes before turning on major electric appliances. This will help eliminate problems that could occur if there’s a surge in demand immediately after power is restored.

If you think that electric power has been restored to your area, but your home is still without power, call the PUD.

  • Never plug a generator into any electric outlets, a practice known as backfeeding
    • This is extremely dangerous and may cause an electrocution risk to utility workers and neighbors served by the same utility transformer
  • Generators should always be operated outdoors
    • They produce carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that is toxic and causes poisoning or death
  • Do not operate generators in any space that is enclosed or partially enclosed, such as a garage, crawl space, or basement
  • Opening doors and windows or using fans will not provide enough ventilation to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide gas

Washington state law requires that you notify the PUD if you plan to use a generator.

Restoring power after an outage is a complex job. It involves more than simply flipping a switch or removing a tree from a line. At the PUD, our goal is to restore power safely to the greatest number of people in the shortest time possible. Sometimes, that results in one neighbor’s power being restored before another.

The following is an explanation of how Pend Oreille PUD line crews work to restore power after an outage:

Transmission lines supply power to one or more substations. Without these lines being energized, power cannot be restored to customers. Since thousands of people can be served by one transmission line, any damage to these lines is a priority.

Each substation serves hundreds of customers. During a major outage, distribution substations often are affected. Once a problem can be corrected at the substation, power may be restored to a large number of customers. However, depending on the outage conditions, restoring power to a substation may not bring power back for everyone in the area.

If the problem is not at the substation, main distribution lines are checked. These lines carry electricity from the substation to a group of consumers, such as a town or a neighborhood. When power is restored at this stage, all customers served by this supply line could see the lights come on-as long as there is no problem farther down the line. During this stage of restoring power, hospitals, law enforcement, first responders, and schools are priorities.

Secondary distribution lines carry power from the main lines to utility poles or underground transformers. Line crews fix these remaining outages based on restoring service to the greatest number of customers at a time. It is a very tedious process.

Sometimes, damage will occur on the service or “tap” line between your house and the transformer on the nearby pole. This can explain why you have no power, and your neighbor does. If this is the case, you must report the outage to the PUD, so a line crew can repair it.