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Check your emergency outage kit now, then download an app to stay up to date on the conditions

PMG FILE PHOTO - Those ill-prepared for inclement winter weather could find themselves stranded by the side of the road.

Winter weather has descended on the Northwest and an area power agency is urging its customers and the general public to take precautions in order to stay safe and comfortable.

"Storm season can cause significant damage to the electrical grid," said David Lucas, vice president of operations for Pacific Power, which operates primarily in rural areas of the state. "One way we minimize interruptions to your electric service despite the storms is by paying close attention to trees near power lines. In 2018, we pruned 265,000 trees on 5,700 miles of lines, investing more than $29 million to remove hazards and make the lines more resilient. Based on experience, we've anticipated and prepared for this weather and the outages that could occur by staging crews and equipment strategically so that we are able to deploy them where they are needed when the time comes."

Company officials said they are ready to keep customers informed on efforts to restore power and see them through an outage.

"We are ready to assist you whenever you need help with your electric needs," said Barb Coughlin, vice president of customer service. "Reporting outages and receiving updates is easier than ever. Outages can be reported via the website, through our mobile app, or by telephone at 1-877-508-5088."

People can also report outages via text message by testing "OUT" to 722797 and "STAT" to the same number to check the status of an outage.

Pacific Power officials advised households to assemble an emergency outage kit that includes a flashlight, battery-powered radio and clock, extra batteries, manual can opener, bottled water, blankets and nonperishable foods.

Tips to avoid inconvenience and stay safe during outages include:

Stay away from downed power lines and utility lines. Even if the lines are not sparking, they could be energized and dangerous. Call 9-1-1 and report the downed line to Pacific Power at 1-877-508-5088.

Don't drive over downed power lines.

Turn on your porch light. After crews complete repairs, they patrol the area of the power failure to see if lights are on.

Check on your neighbors, especially those who may need special assistance. Also, check with others who have electricity, to see if you can visit.

Keep mobile devices charged so that may be used in an emergency.

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