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How to stay safe and warm during a power outage

With restoration times unknown during Spokane's windstorm, here are some tips on staying warm and safe during the power outages.

SPOKANE, Wash — Tens of thousands of homes in the areas of Spokane, Eastern Washington and North Idaho are without power after strong winds moved through the area on Wednesday.

It could take multiple days for power to be restored to all residents. 

Avista said customers should treat all power lines as if they’re energized. You should stay away from any downed power lines and don’t attempt to remove limbs from downed or sagging power lines. Drivers should also refrain from driving over power lines.

If you see a downed line, call Avista immediately to report the location.

The City of Spokane said if you see a downed tree, you should call 311.

Here are some other steps you should take when your power goes out:

  • Turn off all the appliances that were on before the power went out.
  • Unplug electronic equipment, including computers.
  • Leave a light or radio on as an alert when power has been restored.
  • Help Avista crews working in a neighborhood know which homes have power by turning on the front porch light.
  • Do not wire an emergency generator into a home’s electrical system, unless there is a disconnect switch to separate generated power from Avista’s distribution system. Backfeed into power lines could injure or kill a lineman working to get electricity restored.
  • Use a generator only to run specific appliances and locate it outside so poisonous carbon monoxide fumes do not enter the home.

How to stay warm during a power outage:

  • Layer clothing
  • Put handwarmers in gloves and socks
  • Close up rooms you won’t be using
  • Huddle in one small room
  • Use duct tape and plastic to cove windows for extra insulation
  • Close blinds and curtains at night
  • Utilized fireplace or wood stove
  • Drink warm liquids

Tips for food if power is out longer than two hours:

  • Half full freezer will hold food safely for about 24 hours.
  • Full freezer will hold food safely for 48 hours.
  • DO NOT open freezer don't unless you need too.
  • Refrigerator items like milk, other dairy products, meat, fish, eggs, gravy and spoilable leftovers should be packed into a cooler surrounded by ice. Styrofoam coolers are fine as well.
  • Use "digital quick-response" thermometer to check the food temperature right before you cook or eat it.
  • Throw away any food with a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.

Other important information:

  • Write important information on paper, including phone numbers and addresses.
  • If you have a generator, use it safely. Running a generator improperly can kill you in as little as five minutes if the concentration of carbon monoxide is high enough. Keep it as far away from your home as possible and direct the exhaust away from windows.