Preparing for power outages
Kansas is no stranger to severe weather. We enjoy a variety of seasons, and along with that come extreme temperatures, high winds, tornadoes and ice storms. Are you prepared for a situation where you're without power for several hours or even days?
When severe storms cause damage, our team is working to repair the electrical system and restore service. These efforts take coordination and many hours to complete. We want to help you be safe and prepared.
How to report an outage
On your mobile phone, text OUT to 97827
Call 800-544-4857 (800-LIGHT-KS) to report your outage by phone. Save the number to your cell phone or mobile device.
- Monitor the status on your computer or smart phone using the Outage Map on our site.
- Know your Westar account information. Bookmark the link on your smart phones web browser.
- Please notify us if your power is out, even if your neighbor might have called us. The more calls we receive from an area, the better we are able to pinpoint an outage cause and work to restore service.
6 out of 10 American households don't have a family emergency plan. Be ready.
Assemble a storm kit
Assemble a "Storm Kit" and keep it centrally located. Your kit should contain items that could help you get by if you are without electricity for several days. A list of items to get you started:
- Emergency phone numbers (saved in your phone and on paper)
- Flashlights and fresh batteries
- Battery-powered or wind-up alarm clock
- Supply of bottled water (one gallon per person per day)
- Nonperishable foods that don't require heating. Non-electric can opener.
- Blankets, bedding or sleeping bags
- First-aid kit and medications
- Tool kit, including wrench to turn off gas or water lines
- Medicine, personal hygiene and specific family member items
- A change of clothes can come in handy and don't forget about pet items
Family communications plan
Know where your family will go in an emergency and prepare for different scenarios. Be familiar with locations such as workplaces and schools where family members spend most of their time. Keep in mind your family may not be together when disaster strikes. A list of items to get you started:
- Family member date of birth, Social Security number, medical information and contact information for out-of-town relatives and friends.
- Include items for infants, the elderly or family members with special needs. Infants and elderly people cannot adjust to cold or extreme heat as well as others and may need to be taken to a relative's or friend's home, shelter or a hotel.
- If you depend on electrically powered medical equipment, ask your physician about emergency battery back-up systems. If you are homebound and use life-support equipment not supported by back-up power, you may qualify for Westar Energy's life support service.
- Cordless phones and automatic garage door openers require electricity to work. Keep a corded phone as a backup. Learn how to open your garage door manually.
- If inclement weather is forecast, charge your cell phone or consider purchasing a back-up battery.
Prepare your home
Prepare your home to be without power:
- Charge your cell phones and other electronics that rely on batteries.
- Keep windows and doors closed to hold inside temperature during and after a storm.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
- Keep freezer and refrigerator door closed.
- Leave the porch light on. This helps crews working know when repairs are successful.
- To avoid circuits overloading when power is restored, disconnect or turn off appliances.
- Purchase equipment with built-in surge protection, battery-powered back-up, or use electrical surge suppressors or arresters.
- Plug computers and other sensitive equipment into a separate, grounded circuit to isolate them from fluctuations caused when a major appliance restarts (such as a room air conditioner or refrigerator).
- Consider having a lightning arrester installed at your main circuit panel.
Outside customer responsibilities
If you have overhead electric service, it is common for a tree branch to come down and pull the meter can away from your home/business during a storm. If the meter can has been damaged or pulled away from your home, it must be reattached by a licensed electrician before Westar can restore service.
How Westar prepares for severe weather
Westar keeps a close eye on the weather and staffs crews accordingly when severe weather is forecast. Depending on the severity of the forecast, we may request additional assistance before the storm arrives.
Coordinating restoration efforts
- We send crews from other cities and towns throughout our service territory to the area where additional help is needed.
- If the storm is severe enough, we may open our Emergency Operations Center for logistic coordination.
- When we send crews from other cities to assist an area, it is common for employees within that area to fill a different role. For example, because meter readers know their way around local neighborhoods, they will serve as guides to line crews from other areas.
- When damage is severe and we estimate power restoration will be a multi-day event, Westar has the option to call upon mutual assistance.
- Mutual aid agreements help utilities keep costs reasonable and swell our workforce to aid in rebuilding the electrical system and restoring power when circumstances call for it.
- Westar Energy is a member of the Midwest Mutual Assistance Group. This group allows Westar to call upon neighboring utilities and their contractors for help to restore service in the event of a significant event, such as an ice storm or tornado. In return, Westar will send contract line and tree crews to assist neighboring utilities when they are in need after considering the extended forecast and workload requirements.
- If the event is significant enough, we may also release a portion of our own crews to assist with restoration, keeping in mind the current weather forecast and conditions in our own service territory.
Frequently asked questions
Why doesn't Westar bury overhead power lines?
It is extremely expensive, which would drive electricity rates higher. Underground lines are less susceptible to weather and tree-related outages, but when outages occur they usually last longer. In addition, to bury the existing lines would be very disruptive because it would require that we dig up yards, sidewalks and streets.
How is the power grid protected?
Security is part of maintaining the electric grid. We can't publicly disclose specific details, but we do have a team dedicated to security, and we work closely with other utilities, businesses and government agencies on security. We perform daily evaluations of security issues that apply across our business. Customers can also play an important role by being aware and reporting any suspicious activity they observe.