Emergency responders from several regional agencies gathered recently at Seattle City Light’s North Service Center to emphasize the need for Puget Sound residents to be prepared for potentially treacherous winter weather and power outages. City Light was joined by Snohomish County PUD, King County Emergency Management and Snohomish County Emergency Management.
"Utilities prepare for storms and other emergencies year-round," City Light North Field Operations Manager Lee Simpkins said. "We plan for what can happen, then practice our responses so we’ll be ready when storms hit, and we need our customers to be prepared too."
The local agencies, partners in the annual preparedness campaign Take Winter By Storm, reminded residents to make a plan and practice it. They urged people to assemble emergency kits and supplies now, before storms hit.
"It’s also about tapping useful tools, such as apps for cell phones from the National Weather Service and readiness resources on TakeWinterByStorm.org," said Snohomish County Emergency Preparedness Program Manager Dara Salmon. "Take the time now to talk with family members and employees about what you would do if a storm hit while you weren’t all at home."
Local utilities stock up with the right gear and equipment so they can immediately begin to tackle the most severe storms that blow into Western Washington.
"We’ve set up mutual aid agreements for crews out of the area to help us out when the really big weather events create widespread outages," said Rob McManis, PUD Senior Manager of Distribution Construction Services. "Ready-to-go supply baskets, filled with key equipment, can be quickly lifted on to service trucks so crews can get out to sites and restore power as soon as possible."
When things get especially bad, utilities work together to minimize the impact on their customers. Last year, both Seattle City Light and Snohomish PUD, for example, sent crews to New York and New Jersey to assist with Superstorm Sandy restoration.
"During bad weather, be sure to check on family, friends and neighbors who might need extra assistance," said Salmon. "You may have a family member who has special medical needs or an elderly neighbor that needs an extra hand."
Take Winter by Storm, a public awareness campaign to get Western Washington residents prepared before bad weather strikes, offers these additional preparedness reminders:
* Have phone numbers for your utility to report outages
* Keep an out-of area phone number for your family to stay in touch
* Steer clear of fallen power lines (treat them all like live, energized lines)
* Use generators and barbeque grills outside where they’re well-vented
For additional tips and resources to ensure you’re prepared this winter, visit the Take Winter by Storm website at www.takewinterbystorm.org.