Dealing with power outages

The gusting winds and snow accumulations Saturday night are proof that winter is here. While no major storm is expected over the next several days, residents should be prepared for incidents like the one that blew down 31 power poles in Minden on Dec. 18.

An 80 percent chance of snow and wind gusting to 70 mph means more than just shoveling driveways -- it can mean hunkering down in a dark house without power and wondering about the safety of unrefrigerated food.

Sierra Pacific Power has released safety tips for dealing with downed power lines and lost electricity.

"Be sure to turn off and unplug all sensitive electronic appliances in use, such as computers, TVs, VCRs, DVDs, etc. when the power goes out," said Al Feleciano, safety and health manager for Sierra Pacific. "This will prevent damage that could occur if everything were to suddenly restart and will prevent circuits from overloading when power is restored." He also recommended leaving a light on to indicate when the power has been restored.

Feleciano also recommends the use of surge protectors. For especially sensitive electronics, such as computers, use an uniterruptible power supply such as a back-up battery.

If your power goes out suddenly, Sierra Pacific recommends you check your circuit breakers and fuses before calling to report an outage. Be prepared with flashlights, nonperishable foods, a cell phone and a first aid kit; stay away from downed power lines; and never plugging a portable generator into an electrical outlet. That could feed power back into lines and injure or kill linemen working to restore it.

As for food left in an unpowered refrigerator, open the door as little as possible. Most food left in an unopened refrigerator after power is cut should be good for 72 hours, according to Teri Smith, a dietitian for Tahoe Forest Hospital.

"For those who've been opening the door a lot, I'd say 48 hours is a better guideline," she added.

In a pinch, food can be kept outside in the snow, but keep an eye out for scavengers.

"I think that the best rule is that if people have any doubts (about safety), they should throw things out," Smith said.


Contact Sierra Pacific Resources at

875 E Long St.

Carson City, NV 89706

Weekdays 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.

Call 834-2900

For emergencies, call: 834-2900

or go online at


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