What to Do If the Power Goes Out in the Summertime

There are many things that can cause a power outage during warmer months. It could be that a car accident has taken out the power lines in your neighborhood, or it's some other man-made problem. It could be an animal shorting out the power lines. Or, it could be bad weather. Whatever the cause, there is no need to panic.

The first thing you should do is to determine whether you are the only one without power. If you know where your fuse box is, check for tripped switches or blown fuses. If that is the problem, reset the breaker or replace the fuse. If the problem is more widespread, call your local electricity company. The phone number is in your phone book, and it is also on your electricity bill.

Sometimes a forced power outage is created to maintain the integrity of the entire electicity grid. A "rotational" or "rolling blackout" is a controlled event that occurs when California's Independent System Operator (the entity that controls 75 percent of the electricity in California) calls for a "Stage 3 electricity emergency."

Remember - the blackout will pass shortly. If a rolling blackout is implemented in your area, the electricity should come back on within 30-90 minutes. Until then, stay in the coolest part of the house. If you are outside, move indoors. Keep these tips in mind:

  • UNLESS there is an emergency, do not call 9-1-1. That number should ONLY be used if there is an emergency, or if someone is injured or in danger.
  • If there are downed power lines in your neighborhood, do not go near them. Call 9-1-1 first to report the emergency. Then call your electricity company. Check to make sure that no children or animals go near the wires - they could still be electrictrified and are lethal.
  • A rolling blackout during warm weather will most likely occur during the evening peak hours of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Because it may be dark in rooms with no lights, keep flashlights handy. To avoid a power surge when the electricity returns, turn off computers, TVs, stereos and other unnecessary electronic equipment at the power strip.
  • Drink plenty of water. You will prespire and lose water, so stay hydrated.
  • Dress to stay cool - wear layers that can be removed if you get hot.
  • Avoid opening your refrigerator and freezer as much as possible. Food inside should stay cold for hours if the door is left closed.
  • If you're hot, take a cool shower to reduce your body temperature.
  • If you have a pool or a neighbor with a pool, it's s good time to take a dip. The cooler water will bring your body temperature down and help you to stay cool.
  • Check on your elderly neighbors or those who may have medical conditions or use medical machinery that operates on electricity. Make sure they are dressed appropriately and are staying cool.
  • Drive carefully. Remember that traffic signals may be out in a rolling blackout. Consider each intersection to be a four-way stop and drive defensively.