Local utilities share winter preparedness tips, urge the public to get prepared, too

Tree trimming crews and a certified arborist demonstrate how utilities prep 
year-round for stormy weather – and how customers can help

Press release:

The 2012 storm season is shaping up to have a weather pattern similar to 2006, which brought with it heavy rain, flooding, wind storms and snow – not to mention the infamous Hanukkah Eve Storm that left 1.5 million Western Washington residents and businesses without power for days on end.

Representatives from Puget Sound Energy, Seattle City Light and Snohomish County Public Utility District – local partners in the Take Winter By Storm campaign to help citizens get prepared before bad weather strikes – joined forces Monday, Oct. 29 to demonstrate the actions utilities take year-round to get prepared for wet, windy weather to minimize the risk of power outages for local residents and businesses.

At the demonstration, a Seattle City Light field operations manager showed the extensive damage local electric systems can sustain as a result of fallen trees or branches, a SnoPUD tree crew demonstrated tree-trimming techniques used to maintain the local electric system, and a PSE Certified Arborist shared how the public can help local utilities decrease the likelihood of tree-related power outages.

“Trees and branches falling into power lines is the number-one cause of power outages in the Pacific Northwest – especially during windstorms,” said Scott Thomsen, spokesperson for Seattle City Light. “Heavy, wind-blown trees and branches can cause extensive damage to the electrical system – snapping poles and crossarms, pulling down wires and breaking electrical equipment.”

To minimize the likelihood of tree-related power outages, local electric utilities routinely trim vegetation away from overhead power lines. In 2012, PSE, City Light and SnoPUD trimmed trees away from approximately 4,350 miles of power lines.

”Utility crews work year-round to trim trees, update infrastructure and equipment and prepare for winter storm season,” said Neil Neroutsos, spokesperson for Snohomish PUD. “It is our hope that by educating our customers on the various actions we take in advance of storm season, they will be encouraged to get prepared, too.”

While local utilities do their part to maintain the local energy systems and infrastructure year-round, they rely on their customers to help them maintain trees near power lines as well. The public can help their local utilities decrease tree-related power outages in their communities by reporting trees in danger of falling into power lines, cooperating with utilities to trim and remove trees on private property, and planting the right tree in the right place near energy equipment to ensure tree species do not have the potential to come in contact with nearby power lines.

“We work hard during the year to minimize outages as much as possible, especially during storm season,” said Andy Wappler, spokesperson for PSE. “Outages can still occur when the winds blow and it’s important for families and businesses to be prepared so they can remain safe when that happens.”

Simple steps such as creating an emergency kit, making a plan for emergencies and staying informed can keep families and pets safe during bad weather and emergencies.

The Take Winter By Storm campaign is a collaborative, public-private effort spanning Western Washington that includes the City of Seattle, King County, Puget Sound Energy, State Farm, NOAA’s National Weather Service, American Red Cross and Bartell Drugs. These organizations – which represent Washington state’s largest counties and city emergency management offices and energy utilities, the leading insurer of homes and automobiles, weather forecasters, first responders during disaster occurrences and local businesses – have joined forces in the major multi-media public awareness campaign to raise community awareness of hazardous weather and encourage behaviors that help protect lives and property.

The Take Winter By Storm website, TakeWinterByStorm.org, is a one-stop emergency preparedness information hub that includes safety tips and regional resources related to high winds, heavy rain, snow, freezing conditions, power outages, flooding and more.

The public is encouraged to take the following actions in preparation to be storm ready:
Create an emergency preparedness kit with at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and water for your home and office. Kits prepared for vehicle road travel and winter weather evacuation go-kits are also advised.
Make an emergency plan and practice it with your family and those who depend on you – including animals.
Stay informed and monitor the weather approaching so you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws our way.
Visit TakeWinterByStorm.org for more information and helpful resources, such as a downloadable preparedness and maintenance checklists and emergency contact cards.
You can find Take Winter By Storm on TV, radio, the Internet, as well as on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter:
Twitter.com @WinterByStorm, #stormready, #winterprep

For more information on the Take Winter by Storm campaign:
Visit us online: www.takewinterbystorm.org
Like us on Facebook: Take Winter By Storm
Follow us on Twitter: @WinterByStorm, #stormready, #winterprep
View us on YouTube: Take Winter By Storm

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