Fort Missoula, Full Moon

When The Lights Go Out

Posted: August 29, 2019
Mark Hayden
Mark Hayden, GM

Imagine the worst-case scenario. A major storm was predicted, and this time…the predictions were right. Power lines are down and electricity is predicted to be out for several days. You are low on everything – food, water, batteries, diapers and your medication.

Imagine the stress and anxiety you might experience in this situation. While you can’t always predict the weather forecast, you can plan ahead. When a severe weather event strikes, make sure you are equipped with the proper resources to endure the storm.


1. Stock your pantry with at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food, such as canned goods, energy bars, peanut butter, powdered milk, instant coffee, bottled water and other essentials, like diapers and toiletries.
2. If you are on a private water well, stock up on enough bottled drinking water to last at least three days.
3. Purchase suitable personal hygiene supplies including towelettes, soap and hand sanitizer.
4. Ensure your first aid kit is stocked with pain relievers, bandages and medical essentials. This is also a good time to make sure your prescriptions are current.
5. Set aside household items you might need, including flashlights, batteries, a manual can opener and a portable, battery-powered radio or TV.
6. Store your emergency supplies together in an accessible location.

If a severe storm is expected to bring high winds and sustained rain, you may need to take extra steps to safeguard your home. If possible, shutter windows and securely close and lock exterior doors. Fully charge all electronic devices, like cell phones and laptops, so you have maximum power in the event of a power outage. If you plan to use a small generator, make sure it can handle the amount of power you will need and always review the manufacturer’s instructions prior to operation.

In the event of an outage, turn off appliances, TVs, computers and other sensitive electronics. This will help avert power surge damage, and will prevent overloading the circuits during power restoration. We do suggest leaving one light switch “on,” so you will know when power is restored. If utilizing a small household generator, consider using LED holiday lights to illuminate a living area. A strand of 100 white LED holiday lights draws little energy, yet produces considerable light. Solar lights are another option, if they’re charged with sunlight during the day.

During thunderstorms, the American Red Cross recommends avoiding electrical equipment and land-line telephones. Use battery-powered TVs and radios instead. Keep away from windows. Listen to local news or NOAA Weather Radio for emergency updates. You can check the Missoula Electric Cooperative website or social media pages for restoration updates. Once the storm subsides, avoid downed power lines and walking through flooded areas where power lines could be submerged. Allow ample room for utility crews to safely perform their jobs – including on your property.

Planning ahead for severe storms and other emergencies can reduce stress and lessen the storm’s effects on yourself, your family and your home. Act today, because there is power in planning ahead.

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