How to Prepare for Power Outages in Phoenix

Lineman on power lines

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One of the advantages of living in the Greater Phoenix areas is that there are relatively few natural disasters here. Hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, avalanches, and floods rarely make an appearance in Phoenix. The heat in the Sonoran desert is certainly a factor in the sense of extreme weather, as is the summer monsoon, when Phoenix experiences thunderstorms, lightning, wind, and rain for about two months.

Power Outages in Phoenix

Even though there aren't many extreme natural disasters in Phoenix, locals do experience power outages from time to time. Utility equipment failure, or the occasional vehicle that wipes out a power pole, usually precipitates a very quick response from both major electricity providers here. The summer months bring the most power outages to Phoenix and are usually caused by wind and lightning. Microbursts can wreak havoc with above ground utilities, especially those wooden power poles. Even when there is severe weather in the Phoenix area, downtime for electricity is not usually very long—from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the severity of the storm, and how widespread the damage is. The more crews need to be called out to repair damaged equipment, the longer the power outage. There have been isolated cases of power outages that have lasted a day or more, but they are rare in Phoenix.

How to Prepare for a Possible Power Outage

There are certain things you should have around the house in case you lose power—and everyone in your household should know where they are.

  • Flashlights
  • Fresh batteries
  • Cell phone
  • Battery operated radio or television
  • Nonperishable food
  • Manual can opener
  • Drinking water
  • Coolers/ice chests
  • Cash (ATMs might not be working)
  • Wind up clock (in case you need to set an alarm to get up in the morning)
  • Phone with a cord. (Cordless phones require electricity.)
  • First aid kit

Aside from supplies that you should keep in the house, there are some things that you should know or consider long before you find yourself in an emergency situation.

  • Know where to find each utility shut off for electricity, water, and gas. Know how to turn each off. Have the proper tools to do so, and know where they are located.
  • Know how to manually open your garage door.
  • Use surge protectors on computers and home entertainment systems.
  • If you have pets, be prepared to care for them. Dogs and cats don't care much about electricity. Water, food, and a place to keep relatively cool is what's important to them. If you have fish or other pets that depend on electricity, though, you should investigate an emergency plan just for them.
  • Keep important phone numbers in writing somewhere besides on your computer.
  • Consider purchasing a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for your computer.
  • Always try to have one car with at least half a tank of gas.
  • Consider buying a battery operated fan since most of our power outages in Phoenix occur in the summer.

What to Do If Your Power Goes Out

  • Check with your neighbors to see if they have power. The problem might be only with your home. Check to see if your main circuit breaker is off, or if your fuses have blown.
  • Unplug computers, equipment, air conditioner or heat pump, and copy machines. Turn off lights and other electrical items so that the surge of power won't affect them when power is restored. Leave one light on so you know when the power comes back on. Wait a minute or two after power has been restored and gradually turn on all your equipment.
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed.
  • Wear loose, breathable clothing.
  • Stay out of the sun to stay as cool as possible.
  • Avoid opening and closing the doors to your house. This will keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • If it seems that the power outage will be prolonged, use perishable food and foods from the refrigerator first. Frozen foods in a full, modern, insulated freezer will usually be safe to eat for at least three days.

Why There Aren't More Power Outages

Barring unusual circumstances, power outages in Phoenix tend to be of shorter duration than in the past. Many of the power lines in newer areas are underground (make sure you call 8-1-1 before you dig). Above ground wood poles are gradually being replaced by steel poles, making them less susceptible to wind, and minimizing the domino effect when those storm winds do occur. Finally, technology improvements have allowed utility providers to react more quickly to outages, and in many cases, redundant or overlapping systems are used to deliver power to affected areas. The Phoenix area does not experience rolling blackouts or brownouts.

Emergency Alert System in Phoenix

In the event of a widespread power emergency, you'll be able to get information by watching your battery-operated TV or listening to your battery-operated radio (or car radio). Don't have one of those? If this is an electrical outage, your cell phone should not be affected. Make sure to have a few portable phone chargers juiced up for this reason.

Where to Report a Power Outage in Phoenix

If you have a power outage, call one of these phone numbers:

  • To report a power outage to Salt River Project (SRP), call 602-236-8888.
  • To report a power outage to Arizona Public Service (APS), call 602-371-7171.
  • For more information about power outages in the Phoenix area, visit SRP or APS online.
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