Winter Storm Safety

Baker, Grant, Harney and Union County (Released by OTEC)- Snow and ice storms are an inevitable part of the winter season in Eastern Oregon. However, they can lead to outages and downed power lines. OTEC wants to remind everyone to take the proper steps now to be prepared so you can stay safe and warm should you find yourself in the dark during a severe winter event.

Stay away from downed power lines: In a winter storm emergency, restoring power and heat to members is OTEC’s highest priority, and crews work around the clock to restore service. Even so, it can take days to repair the devastating damage of a winter storm. If you are in the midst of storm recovery, avoid going outside if possible. Downed power lines could be submerged in snow and ice and difficult to identify. When outside, treat all downed and hanging lines as if they are energized electric lines: Stay away, warn others to stay away and immediately contact OTEC. Remember that downed power lines do NOT have to be arcing, sparking, or moving to be live and deadly.

Prepare now: Severe winter storms often bring heavy accumulation of ice and snow, which can lead to downed power lines and extended outages. OTEC crews will work hard to restore power but being prepared to stay inside your home without power for an extended period is a smart idea.

*Prepare your home to keep out the cold with insulation, caulking, and weather stripping. Learn how to keep pipes from freezing. Install and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors with battery backups.

*Pay attention to weather reports and warning of freezing weather and winter storms.

*The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.

*Prepare a survival kit which includes food that does not require cooking and a large supply water ( recommends three to five gallons per person per day). Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication.

*Also make sure you have a First Aid kit, blankets, flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra batteries.

*Create an emergency supply kit for your car. Include jumper cables, sand, a flashlight, warm clothes, blankets, bottled water, and non-perishable snacks. Keep the gas tank full.

Survive During and Stay Safe & Warm

*In the event of an outage, an alternate heating source—such as a fireplace, propane space heater, or wood stove—may be used. Extreme caution should be taken.

*Make sure carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors are working properly.

*Do not use a gas-powered oven for heating. A gas oven may go out or burn inefficiently, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning.

*Do not use a gas or charcoal grill inside the home. Do not use charcoal briquettes in the fireplace.

*If you use a portable generator to power a heating source, be sure the generator is located outside your house for proper ventilation.

Ideally, your family will stay warm until the power comes back on. But keep an eye on family members for signs of hypothermia, which include shivering, drowsiness, and mental and physical slowness. The elderly and young children are particularly vulnerable to hypothermia. Call 911 immediately if you notice these symptoms. At least one telephone in the house that does not depend on electricity should be available in the case of a power outage. Make sure to also check on your neighbors, especially if they are elderly.