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Winter power outages could be especially dangerous

Winter power outages could be especially dangerous

BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho - Power outages can become especially dangerous in the winter months due to the extreme cold in eastern Idaho.

Often times outages are caused by squirrels and only last up to a couple of hours. In the winter, however, power could be out for longer periods of time. The biggest concern becomes keeping people warm.

"If it's extreme cold, it'd be like going outside without a coat on standing around for six or seven hours," said Tom Lenderink, director of emergency management in Bonneville County.

"It's harder on our guys. It takes longer to get the power back up. They travel around on the ice and snow, outages might be a little longer," said Matthew Evans, customer relations supervisor at Idaho Falls Power.

A long power outage is one of many reasons to prepare an emergency kit.

"It'd be a good idea to have an extra supply of water, a 72-hour kit with food, essentials, prescriptions, medications," said Lenderink. Blankets and flashlights are also essential for a power outage.

Cash is a good idea, too, since many stores won't be able to make credit card transactions without power.

If the power does go out, it is a good idea to turn off most lights and appliances.

"We just don't want to have a big surge when the power comes back on, it could trip another outage," said Evans.

Idaho Falls Power also relies on community members calling in and telling them about an outage.

"The phone is ringing a lot, so we ask (people) to be patient but it does help us pinpoint the problem, the more people we get," said Evans.

Some natural gas appliances may still work during a power outage. Intermountain Gas told Local News 8 that gas stoves could still be lit carefully with a match, as well as some gas fireplaces. Most gas water heaters will continue to work, although furnaces and ovens likely will not.

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