PUD: Falling trees, limbs cause of most power outages Sunday; plus tips for staying safe

A fallen tree on 192nd Street Southwest in Edmonds’ Seaview neighborhood. (Photo by Jai Veilleux)

About 33,000 customers in the Edmonds, Lynnwood and Mountlake Terrace area lost power as a result of Sunday’s storm. That’s according to Snohomish County PUD, which advised residents to be prepared in case of additional outages due to ongoing rainy and windy conditions Monday.

“The cause for the vast majority of these outages was falling limbs and trees coming down and taking out poles and wires,” said Snohomish County PUD spokesperson Aaron Swaney. “There are still a lot of leaves on limbs, which causes them to fall more frequently and cause more damage when they do, and the rain has really saturated the ground, weakening tree roots.”

As of Monday morning, about 200 in the area were still without power, including an outage in the 18100 block of 56th Avenue West in Lynnwood affecting about 140 customers.

A fallen tree took down power lines along Ballinger Park Sunday. (Photo by Ryan Garvie)

Swaney offered following suggestions for residents during stormy weather:

  • Remain at least 30 feet away from any fallen power lines, including lines that are sagging or broken. Also, don’t cut up fallen trees that are entangled with power lines. The safe thing to do is assume all power lines are alive and can be a killer if touched.
  • Never bring a combustible heating source or generator inside. Doing so can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Call the PUD if you have specific information about the location of a downed tree or if you see a power line on the ground. Outages can be reported by calling 425-783-1001. If it’s a life-threatening situation or medical emergency, call 911.
  • Try to remember what was turned on at the time the power went out and turn the switches to those items to the “off ” position. It’s especially important to turn off anything that has a heating element, such as the electric range, an iron, or a toaster oven. Turning items off will prevent a fire when the power is restored. Also unplug sensitive electronics to prevent damage from potential electrical surges. It’s not necessary to turn off hot water heaters.
  • Make sure you have fresh batteries for flashlights. Always exercise extreme caution if you use candles or oil lamps. Never leave them unattended and keep them away from furniture, drapes and other flammable materials.
  • Stay warm. Choose a small room with few windows as your emergency living quarters. Keep the windows, drapes, and doors closed. Also, dress warmly. Wear several layers of clothes and don’t forget to wear a hat.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Agriculture notes in Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency, your refrigerator will keep food safe for up to four hours during a power outage. Keep the door closed as much as possible. Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers after four hours without power.

After a power outage, officials recommend that you never taste food to determine its safety. You will have to evaluate each item separately, and when in doubt, throw it out. Here’s a link to a chart with more information.

— By Teresa Wippel

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