In our urban environment, we are heavily dependent upon the utilities that keep our daily activities going. When those are disrupted, it can cause a lot of frustration and pose risks to some people. Take steps ahead of time to prepare for utility outages:
Before a Power Outage
- Have what you need in the event of a power outage. This includes a working flashlight and/or lantern, as well as a way to cook food, such as a grill or campstove, if you have an electric stove. Be sure you know how to safely operate any gas-operated stoves or grills to minimize the risk of fire and Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
- Sign up for CenterPoint Energy’s Power Alert Service to receive alerts about power outages in your area. This free service will send you a voice call, text, and email when a power outage is reported in your area. Visit centerpointenergy.com to sign up.
- Unplug any sensitive electronics, such as Televisions, computers, etc. to limit the impact that a power surge might have on them.
- You can also report power outages to CenterPoint by calling 713.207.2222 or toll-free at 800.332.7143
Using a Generator
If you plan on using a generator:
- Make sure you use the manufacturer’s power cords
- NEVER operate a generator indoors, under overhangs, or near windows, doors or vents. If you or others show symptoms of Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning, such as dizziness, headaches, nausea, or tiredness, get to fresh air immediately and call 911.
- NEVER plug a portable generator into a home’s electrical system. Only a licensed electrician should ever attempt to plug in a generator to a home’s power.
- ONLY plug electrical appliances directly into the generator using the manufacturers’ supplied cords. If you must use an extension cord, make sure it is an undamaged, heavy-duty cord that is grounded (has three prongs)
During a Power Outage
- Stay safe – do not use candles, or if you must, never leave them unattended in a room, or while you sleep.
- If you use a propane or gas stove, do so outside, away from windows and doors, and flammable materials to minimize your exposure to Carbon Monoxide, and to reduce your risk of fire.
- Avoid downed power lines, regardless of if you think they are active or not. If you see an unattended downed power line, call 911 and CenterPoint Energy at 713.207.2222 or toll-free at 800.332.7143.
- If you are driving and power lines come down on your car – stay in your car until emergency personnel arrive.
- If you are driving and traffic lights are out or blinking red, treat all intersections as four-way stops, and follow the instructions of law enforcement.
- Stay informed by listening to a battery-powered radio, or following CenterPoint energy on your mobile phone at twitter.com/cnpalerts.
- Report any downed trees or debris in streets to Houston 311 (713.837.0311)
If you smell gas
- DO NOT use lighters or matches, or flip any light switches.
- Open your windows
- Immediately evacuate the structure or area where you smell gas and call 911 when you no longer smell the gas.
After a Power Outage
- Once power is restored, do a thorough check of your home to make sure that power surges have not sparked any electrical fires.
- If you are driving and lights are flashing red, treat all intersections as four-way stops.
Water or Sewer Service Interruptions
Before an Interruption
- Make sure you have enough water in your home to meet your family’s needs. We recommend 3 gallons per person, per day for up to 5 days. This will ensure you have enough water for drinking, cooking and sanitary purposes.
Water Main Break
If you think there is a water main break, contact the Houston Public Works & Engineering Department by calling 311 (713.837.0311) to report it.
Water Quality issues
If there are issues with water quality, official information will be posted on houstontx.gov/emergency with instructions on steps to take to ensure your safety.