Landslides: What to Do and How to Prepare

Safety is our number one priority here at City Light, and our partnership with Take Winter By Storm demonstrates our commitment to both safety awareness and emergency preparedness. With the recent landslide in West Seattle, we wanted to share a few tips that can help prepare you for such an event and provide information on what to do in case of a power blackout.


A landslide in West Seattle on Feb. 15, 2017

How does a Landslide occur?

The USGS defines a landslide as “the movement of a mass of rock, debris, or earth down a slope.” A landslide can be triggered by earthquakes, volcanic activity, snowmelt, changes in water level, or in this case, heavy rainfall. The topography (and weather) of Washington State increases our susceptibility to these types of natural disasters so it’s important to be aware of its causes and to be prepared.

How to Prepare for a Landslide

If you know that your home or place of business lies in a potential landslide path, prepare, prepare, prepare!

  • Power up: As seen in West Seattle, your power can go out in the event of a landslide. It’s important to have alternative forms of power on-hand. Whether it’s battery-operated, solar-powered, or crank up, a radio is a good emergency device to have. It will keep you connected to critical news and information until your power is restored. Flashlights and emergency light sticks are other useful tools that will keep your area lit.
  • Have a plan: Devise a plan with those around you so you know what to do in case of an emergency. This will also ensure you have a headcount for those of whom you’re responsible.
  • Emergency backpack: Never underestimate the *power* of an emergency supply. Stash yours with warm blankets, sweatshirts, water, and nutrient-filled snacks, to keep you warm and nourished until your power returns. This checklist by Take Winter by Storm provides more in-depth detail about what your emergency backpack should contain (including a first aid kit).
  • Get weather ready: Winter is arguably Mother Nature’s harshest season. Be prepared with this detailed pamphlet from Take Winter by Storm, outlining necessary steps to get your home weather ready.

What to do During a Landslide

If caught in a landslide, there are multiple safety measures you can enact:

  • Call 911: This should be the first thing you do. Authorities can best assess the situation, take the right steps to ensure safety, provide orders of evacuations, and aid to injured parties.
  • In case of a blackout: Report any power outages to our hotline at 206-684-3000. Want to know the status of an outage and the area affected? Check out our power outage map or follow us on Twitter (@SEACityLight) or Facebook for updates. Don’t go near any fallen power lines or wires, and don’t try to fix your electricity. Know that Seattle City Light crews are working hard and fast to get your power restored.
  • Be alert: This applies for all activity, but is especially important when driving. Roads are often affected by landslides so watch for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks and other signs of fallen debris. Should you come across a fallen power line, keep a safe distance and report it to 206-684-3000.
  • Sound matters: Pay close attention for any unusual noise (e.g. trees cracking, rocks tumbling) that can indicate moving debris.


For more safety tips and information, visit For updates on power outages and more, follow Seattle City Light on Twitter at @SEACityLight, on Facebook at or visit our website at

Be Prepared for Windstorm Rolling Into Seattle

Heavy winds and rain will start picking up later this afternoon into the evening through Seattle and other neighboring areas.

Seattle City Light customers could experience power outages due to falling trees, branches, leaves and other foliage on power lines.

If you experience an outage, please report it by calling (206) 684-3000. You can also visit the Seattle City Light Outage Map to follow updates on restoration work.

Below are some tips to stay safe and warm during an outage:

  • Stay Away from Downed Power Lines – Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you come across any downed lines, do not approach or touch anything in contact with the wire as it could be energized and live. If you see a downed power line, call 911 or (206) 684-3000. You can also report downed power lines by sharing it through City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.
  • Be Cautious with Generators and Grills – Use generators with care during a power outage and always use portable generators outside in well-ventilated areas. Never plug a generator into your home circuitry. Instead, plug in appliances directly into the outlets on the generator. When it comes to the grill, do not use barbeques indoors.
  • Keep Warm and Bundle Up – Try to retain as much heat as possible. Close windows, curtains, unused fireplace dampers, and have blankets ready to conserve body heat. Cold weather is especially hard on infants, children and the elderly. Dress in several layers of lightweight clothing, covering the head, feet and hands.
  • Have Your Emergency Kit/Plan Ready – Prepare an emergency kit if you haven’t already. Some ideas to include are a working flashlight, glow-in-the-dark stick lights, wind-up clock, portable radio, manual can opener and mylar blanket. During a major storm, have a plan for locating family members in case you are not with them. For more information about emergency kits and plans, please visit:
  • Use Hot Water Sparingly – Most hot water tanks will retain heat for up to 24 to 72 hours.
  • Close Your Refrigerator/Freezer – Keep your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible. A full refrigerator will maintain safe temperatures for up to six to 10 hours; a full freezer up to 2 days. In most cases, food should be safe if refrigerators and freezers remain closed while the power is out. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Unplug Electrical Appliances – If you experience a prolonged outage, be sure to turn off electrical appliances to prevent fires and equipment damage. Some electrical appliances to consider unplugging before a storm hits are computers and televisions.
  • Be Fire Safe – Do not use candles as a light source nor any open flame as a heat source.
  • Have Your Phone Ready – Cordless phones will not work without electricity. Have a corded or cell phone available. If your cell phone is your primary phone, make sure it is charged and you have a phone charger ready.
  • Electric Garage Owners – Know how to use the manual override of your electric garage door if your power goes out.
  • Remember Your Pets – Household pets such as cats, dogs, fish and birds may require special care. Contact your veterinarian for more information.
  • Life-Support Customers – If you rely on electric life-support machines, make sure you have emergency power and know how to operate it. Make sure your system has an alarm to alert you if the power goes out.
  • Report an Outage – If you want to report a power outage, please contact the Seattle City Light Power Outage Hotline at (206) 684-3000. Please remember to give us your name, address, phone number and describe any unusual circumstances that could help us identify the problem.

To stay updated on the storm response, please follow City Light’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Seattle City Light Crews Prepare to Take Winter By Storm

Seattle City Light crews demonstrated their preparations for winter storms Monday, while calling on residents to their part by assembling emergency preparedness kits and developing plans for how they will respond when storms arrive.

City Light operators, and crews from line service, vegetation management, overhead service and pole setting participated in a demonstration of the work they do to repair typical storm damage. The event was part of the regional Take Winter By Storm campaign, which is designed to raise awareness of winter storms and better prepare residents to get through them safely.

“Winter storms are part of living in the Pacific Northwest and they often bring power outages from falling branches and trees,” Field Operations Manager Richard Moralez said. “Our crews will work diligently to restore service, but it could be hours or days before everyone has power after a big storm. That’s why it’s so important for people to be prepared to take care of themselves during an outage.”

During large outage events, City Light prioritizes its repair work. The first priority is life safety, such as incidents where electrified wires have fallen on a car. Next are emergency services, such as hospitals. Then, crews will work on the repairs that will bring the most customers back into service and continue working down the list until everyone is back in power.

You can see the outages a typical winter storm can cause and the restoration efforts of City Light crews as they would appear on the utility’s outage map in the video below.

To prepare yourself and your family to get through a power outage safely, build an emergency preparedness kit, have a plan for what you will do and practice that plan. Remember to check your kit’s supplies to make sure they are fresh. When you’re ready, check on family, friends and neighbors to help them get ready too. You can get tips and checklist at

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.

Seattle City Light, Snohomish PUD Ready to Take Winter By Storm

JoAnn Jordan from the Seattle Department of Emergency Management reviews the Brown family’s efforts as part of a Take Winter By Storm preparedness challenge.

Are you ready for whatever stormy conditions Mother Nature may bring to the Pacific Northwest in the coming months? That was the challenge recently posed to Andrew Brown and his family by Seattle City Light, Snohomish PUD and the other partners in the annual Take Winter By Storm campaign. The Brown family was given one week to pull together all of the essential items needed to weather an extended power outage.

“We tried to make it a fun activity so our kids could get involved and learn a bit about being prepared for fierce winter weather,” Brown said. “It was timely since some of the items we had on hand, including a burst water jug, needed to be replaced.”

Emergency responders and utility officials reviewed the Brown family’s preparations, including what they did well and how they could improve. The team was led by JoAnn Jordan, public education coordinator for the City of Seattle Office of Emergency Management.

“They did an exceptional job assembling the types of things we all need during long winter storms – flashlights, batteries, blankets, food and water,” Jordan said. “Too many of us wait until the last minute and get caught in the rush to stock up when supplies may be limited. And there are simple things that are easy to miss, like having some extra cash in small bills available, making sure cell phones are fully charged and that having easy-to-prepare meals available when the power is out.”

During the check of the Brown home on a hillside above the Snohomish Valley, crews from Seattle City Light and Snohomish County PUD also called out ways they’re prepared to get out quickly and restore power during storms. Trucks are fully stocked with necessary tools and equipment, line crews have extra warm clothing, glove warmers and safety markers for work zones. Utilities also monitor multiple weather services as storms develop and set up contract crews and mutual aid agreements with other utilities to assist with major storms.

Crew Chief Mike Gibbons tells Q13 Fox News how to stay safe around downed power lines during the Take Winter By Storm event.

The message that the utilities have repeatedly reinforced is that they’re doing everything they can to be prepared to restore power quickly, and they want your family to be prepared too so you’re safe and comfortable this winter season.

The Take Winter By Storm campaign is a collaborative, public-private effort spanning Western Washington that includes Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities, Snohomish County Public Utility District, the cities of Bellevue and Seattle, State Farm, National Weather Service/NOAA, and other local retailers – which represent Washington state’s largest counties and city emergency management offices and utilities, the leading insurer of homes and automobiles, weather forecasters, first responders during disaster occurrences and local businesses. These organizations have joined forces in the major multi-media public awareness campaign to raise community awareness of hazardous weather and help protect lives and property.