Avista Outage Center
Other ways to report and track power outages
Learn what to do if your power goes out.
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Outage safety checklist
- Turn off all the appliances you think were on before the power went out
- Unplug your electronic equipment, including computers.
- Leave a porch light on so you, and Avista service people, can tell when you have power again.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to prevent food spoilage. Food should stay frozen for about one full day and fresh in the refrigerator for about four hours.
- Lower the thermostat on all your electric heat sources to an absolute minimum.
- Wait a half hour after power comes back on to return your thermostat to a normal setting.
- Use flashlights.
- Use candles. They're fire hazards.
- Heat your home with an outdoor grill or other items not intended for indoor use. They can create deadly fumes indoors.
- Wire an emergency generator into your home electrical system. Backfeed into power lines could injure or kill a lineman working to get electricity restored.
- Go near downed power lines. Stay away. Treat all power lines as live.
Plan ahead for a power outage
Know where your electric equipment is in your home.
- Circuit breakers. This should be the first thing you check in an outage. Find it, then flip all of your breakers to the off position and back to the on position, just so you know how to do that in advance.
- Meters. The next thing you check. Know where your meter is and what it looks like when it’s working. If you have an outage and the display is blank, that means there is no power getting to the meter and you should report an outage. If you have multiple meters, write down the meter number (center of the meter) and where they serve (e.g. garage, house, shop). Knowing where your metering is and what it serves may reduce the time it takes Avista to analyze and repair your outage.
Keep emergency supplies in one place.
Supplies should include:
- Flashlights with fresh batteries
- Portable, battery-powered radio
- Wind-up or battery-powered clock
- Water and nonperishable food
- Manual can opener
- Non-cordless phone to plug in during outages, or a cell phone with battery back-up
Practice using devices manually.
Take time in advance to understand how things you use every day work without power, such as:
- Garage doors
- Security doors
- Electric gates
Install surge protectors.
Pay particular attention to more sensitive electronics, including:
Maintain fire alarm batteries.
- Replace the batteries in your fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors every few months, even ones hard-wired to your home's electrical system.
Know the operating requirements of your gas appliances.
- During outages, ignitions in appliances like gas stoves won't work because electricity is needed to ignite the natural gas.
- Appliances that require electric fans, like central heating units and gas clothes dryers, won't operate.
Prepare your home medical equipment.
If you have medical needs that require special equipment
- Plan for a worst-case scenario, like a long power interruption.
- Research portable generators.
- Make a plan with friends or relatives.
You planned. When the outage happens, you're ready. Watch a quick video to learn safety best practices when the lights go out. Watch now.
Why does the power go out?
The following will help you better understand various causes of power outages and what Avista does to remedy these situations.
If Avista is performing planned work that might interrupt your service, you’ll receive a notice. For example, we may need to turn power off to perform maintenance or upgrade equipment. Here is our process:
- You'll get notification from us the day prior to the outage
- We'll provide a time range and try to honor it
- We may cancel a scheduled outage due to weather and operational issues
Helpful tips to prepare for a scheduled outage:
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed
- Buy additional ice if necessary
- Learn how to manually open your security gates and garage doors
- Notify any security companies that monitor your home or business
- Protect computers, televisions, and other sensitive equipment from surges by unplugging them
If your power goes out and you didn't receive a notice from us, report it. Or, call us at (800) 227-9187.
Sometimes nature finds a way to interfere, despite our best efforts. Severe weather is one of the most common reasons for power outages. And these severe weather conditions can cause trees to fall and knock out power lines. Animals can also wreak havoc on power lines and cause outages.
Weather: Lightning, strong winds, heavy rain, snow, ice, and even excessive heat and cold can impact electrical equipment. Recent research suggests that nearly half of power outages are caused by severe weather conditions such as thunderstorms. A common question is: Why does the power go out during a storm?
- Severe weather causes power outages and interruptions by knocking down power lines, blowing objects into overhead lines, flooding power-related equipment, or damaging insulation, resulting in blown fuses
- When lightning strikes over or in the near proximity to an electrical conductor (e.g. street wires), the charge to the conductor can trip all of the substation circuit breakers, leading to blackouts
Animals: Squirrels, raccoons, or other animals can make contact with electrical equipment, including getting into “feeders” of local substations, thereby causing power outages.
- Animals are to blame for thousands of power outages and millions of dollars in related damage each year
- The top four critters that caused power outages in 2019 were squirrels, birds, raccoons, and snakes, in that order
Trees: Fallen trees can bring down power lines and branches can get tangled in power lines. Most often, this is associated with severe weather. The good news is you can take steps to help prevent these occurrences. Visit our tree safety section to learn more about keeping trees in check.
Different scenarios involving Mother Nature can cause damage to various equipment.
Pole fires: Although infrequent, wooden poles can catch fire and cause power outages. Following a long spell of dry weather, dirt covering the insulators that connect wires to the top of power poles can become conductive when exposed to moisture (e.g. a rain shower). This can create a path that enables electricity to travel from the wires to the pole. If the “dirt path” gets hot enough, the pole will catch fire. This phenomenon can happen anytime build-up impacts insulators, including after the winter thaw or following a long, hot summer.
Mast damage: In some instances, our power lines connect to your home through a piece of equipment called the overhead mast:
Here's how it might cause an outage:
- If a tree falls into it, or a branch gets entangled, the overhead mast bends away from the house.
- Or, the fitting might break, compromising where the wire connects to the meter.
We might have to shut off your power as a result of either of these events. And, we'll need your help—for safety reasons, we have to ask you to have a licensed electrician make the repairs before we can turn the power back on.
When will my power be back on?
The underlying cause of the outage helps us estimate when your power will be restored. Please keep in mind that the expected time for restoration may be updated once the crew arrives on site and evaluates the situation.
When you call customer service at (800) 227-9187 to report an outage, you’ll be provided with the following information:
- When Avista was first notified about the outage
- The cause of the outage, if known
- How many people the outage affected
- The status of our crews (e.g. whether they have been dispatched or are already on site)
- The anticipated time-frame for resolution and restoration of power
Power restoration and when it will be restored
When a power outage occurs, most people’s first question is, "When is the power coming back on?" Read on to find out how we determine this and other answers to common questions.
Whose power is restored first?
1) Our top priority: Facilities essential to the health and welfare of the community receive priority. This includes hospitals; healthcare providers; emergency services; public safety, water, and sewage stations; and other vital community services.
2) Next, we service areas in which the greatest number of people can be helped in the shortest period of time. We start at the source of the power outage and work outward to restore electrical service. For instance, if we have the ability to restore 2,000 customers or 100 customers, 2,000 customers are given preference.
When will power be restored?
Avista formulates the estimated time of power outages and a power restoration estimate based on several factors. The underlying cause of the outage is a key factor.
During normal operations
If an outage occurs and the weather isn't a contributing factor, our system establishes an initial estimated restoration time based on historical data of post-outage experience. Once a crew arrives on-site and evaluates the situation, the estimated restoration time may be updated.
During storm operations
- Plan: When the forecast calls for storms, we schedule staffing and response coordination so we're ready to restore your power as soon as it’s safe to do so.
- Assess the damage: We specify estimated times of restoration only after damage assessments are completed.
- Begin power restoration: Once weather and safety conditions clear up, we focus on restoring power to critical infrastructures first (e.g. transmission lines and substations, and emergency facilities like hospitals). Assessments continue and restoration times are updated accordingly.
- Complete restoration: If your power is still out after restoration is confirmed, check your equipment for these potential issues:
- The overhead mast is bent and pulled away from the house, causing a wire to hang
- A bent mast broke the fitting where the wire connects to your electric meter
- A broken meter fitting caused an arc or burned meter socket
All repairs need to be done by a licensed electrician before we can safely restore power to your home.
If you received information that power has been restored in your area and your lights are still out, please contact Avista at (800) 227-9187.
To learn more about how we restore power, watch our video.