What to Do During an Outage
Know How to Stay Safe
Power outages are the result of a variety of causes — anything from traffic accidents, wildlife interference, and severe weather. They can occur on the brightest of sunny days and during our sudden, and sometimes severe, Central Texas thunderstorms.
At Austin Energy, the safety of our crews and customers is our utmost concern. Follow these tips to stay safe during power outages.
Call 9-1-1 if you have a medical emergency or your life is at risk. Do not wait for your power to be turned back on.
Avoid Downed Power Lines
Stay indoors if at all possible. There may be downed power lines. You must stay at least 35 feet away from any downed lines. If you believe there is a downed power line near your home or business, call 512-322-9100 to report it immediately.
- Be aware that limbs, fences, hoses, playsets, and other structures near you can become energized by a downed power line.
- If you must travel across the city in the aftermath of severe weather, first consult the Outage Map to view the location and types of known electrical hazards.
- Learn how to stay safe when a power line is down
Check Your Breakers If You Can Do So Safely
The outage may exist only in your home or business because of a blown fuse or a tripped circuit.
- If you have checked your breakers and are still without power, report the outage online.
- If you have not or cannot check your breaker, call 512-322-9100 to report your outage.
Use Flashlights or Battery-Operated Lanterns
Candles and kerosene lanterns are not recommended for lighting because of fire risks and fume hazards.
Follow Safety Precautions With Portable Emergency Generators
Portable generators may be used to provide limited electrical power during an outage, but take care to ensure that
they do not pose a threat to you and your family.
Gas-powered generators pose serious fire and carbon monoxide threats.
- Never fuel or run a portable generator in the home, place of business, or garage.
- Make sure the generator is equipped with a double-throw transfer switch that protects your equipment and prevents feedback on power lines.
- Always operate according to the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure installation meets proper electrical requirements.
- Learn more about generator safety
Keep Refrigerator and Freezer Doors Closed
Home refrigerators can keep food cold enough for a day or two without power, if the doors are kept closed.
- As a rule of thumb, 25 pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer at the proper temperature (32 degrees F) for three to four days. When in doubt, throw it out.
- Read the USDA guidelines for keeping food safe during outages
Turn Off Major Appliances
When major appliances such as air conditioners and pumps are left on, they could overload electric lines once power is restored, causing a second outage. Leave just a few light switches on, including one or two exterior lights. Gas appliances may not work if the power is off because the equipment may require electricity for ignition or valve operation.
Do Not Attempt to Assist Emergency and Utility Crews
Electrical work is dangerous work. Let the pros handle repairs and restoration.
Frequently Asked Questions
A member of my family relies on a ventilator. Can I be designated as a high priority to restore my power?
Call 9-1-1 immediately if you have a medical emergency or your life is at risk. Do not wait for your power to be turned back on.
- The City of Austin offers a Registry for the Medically Vulnerable. If someone in your household has a long-term disease or critical illness, you may be eligible for the City’s registry of medically vulnerable customers and receive special support services.
- The registry does not affect the duration of a power outage or when power is restored.
A tree limb has pulled down a power line on my property. Should I remove the limb?
You should never approach a downed limb in contact with a power line. Even if you can’t see the power line, you should treat downed limbs like they are energized.
- During an outage, stay at least 35 feet away from any downed limb.
- If you see a downed line on your property, call Austin Energy at 512-322-9100.
- If you are trapped by a downed line — in your car, in an out-building or other structure, call 9-1-1.
A utility truck is parked down the street. Can I ask the crew for an update?
No. Please stay inside until the power is restored.
- Lineworkers have dangerous jobs and there are often hazards that you may not be aware of. Please allow crews to work safely and expeditiously without interruption.
- Be assured that Austin Energy lineworkers are highly trained professionals who are there to restore your power. They work quickly, but their top priority is everyone's safety — including yours.