Your guide to outages and storm preparedness

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Reporting Outages

Four ways to report an outage:

Outage Map

View power outages within the Bluebonnet service area.

View the Outage Map »

Outage Alerts

Log in to your account to set up outage alerts on your mobile device.

Set Up Alerts »

Preparing for Outages

Tips and advice to help you prepare for outages and severe weather.

Read the Tips »


 

Power outages happen for a variety of reasons. Storms are frequently the cause of large outages because of high winds, lightning, rain, ice and more. Other outages can be caused by equipment problems and even animals.
Whatever the cause, Bluebonnet offers four ways to report outages and an online outage viewer map (find that on our home page under the Outage Report graph). The outage map allows you to keep track of the status and location of outages. Plus, Bluebonnet’s Facebook page and Twitter feed offer timely notices and frequent updates on outages and restoration status.

Our control room monitors outages 24/7 and crews are always on call to help restore power. 

Please make sure we have your current phone number on file. When you call from the phone number tied to your account, we can more quickly locate the area where power is out and restore your power. That means it is important that you keep your account information updated with your most current phone number. To update your account information, log in to your online account, go to the Preferences tab, change information in the Contact Info section, then click Save Changes.

You can enroll in outage alerts, too. Just scroll down on the preferences page to Outage Alerts.

We try to offer estimated restoration times when possible, but there are numerous factors that can complicate power restoration. When power lines are down or equipment is damaged, it can take longer to restore power.

Downed power lines are dangerous! Assume any power line that is down is energized and stay away. If the situation is an emergency, call 911. Then report the downed line to our control center at 800-949-4414.

4 ways to report an outage to Bluebonnet 


1. Call our automated outage hotline, 800-949-4414

 
2. Use TextPower with a smartphone. To register, text BBOUTAGE to 85700 and follow the prompts. Once you have registered, report an outage on your mobile device by texting OUT to 85700. You can receive updates by texting STATUS to the same number. 
 
3. Go online to bluebonnet.coop. If you have an online account, click Report Outage in the top task bar or hover over the Outage Report icon and click Report an Outage. Log in and follow the prompts. 
 
4. Use our mobile app for iPhone and Android smartphones and tablets. Just tap Report Outage on the home page or log in to your online account.

Questions? Call a member service representative at 800-842-7708 during business hours. Or email memberservices@bluebonnet.coop

4 steps to take in an outage 

 
1. Locate your home’s electrical panel and check the circuit breakers to see if a breaker switch is tripped or a fuse is blown. 

 
2. Find out if your neighbor’s power also is out. 
 
3. Visit bluebonnet.coop on a battery powered laptop, tablet or smartphone. Click on the Outage Map button. A gray area with a black border represents Bluebonnet’s service area. The page updates automatically every 5 minutes. 
 
4. If you have an outage, call 800-949-4414. If you’re signed up for TextPower, text OUT to 85700. 

Look for more information about outage reporting and planned outages in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Outage infographic

8 things to have when the power goes out 

 
1. Flashlights and spare batteries 
 
2. A battery-powered or hand-crank radio 
 
3. A cooler, ice, freezer packs (to keep food colder longer) and canned food (plus a manual can opener) 
 
4. A telephone that doesn’t need outside electricity to work 
 
5. Drinking water — at least a gallon per person, per day 
 
6. A first-aid kit and prescription medications (and copies of prescriptions), eyeglasses, hearing aids and other necessary health equipment 

7. Copies of important documents and records, including photo IDs and insurance papers 
 
8. Cash — credit cards and ATMs may not work in power outages 
 

Emergency warning services

Registering with Warn Central Texas allows emergency personnel in your local community to directly contact you by phone, text or e-mail during a disaster or public safety event, including such weather emergencies as tornados, floods or severe thunderstorms.

Emergency response teams will send warnings about dangerous conditions and situations as events unfold. They can quickly give specific directions that affect your neighborhood such as evacuation orders and directions to shelters.

The Capital Area Council of Governments has partnered for this emergency warning service with communities in much of the Bluebonnet service area including Bastrop, Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Lee, Williams, Fayette and Blanco counties.

Register your cell phone number and e-mail address to get alerts sent to your mobile devices. Go to warncentraltexas.org to register now.

A similar service is available to Washington County residents through that county’s Office of Emergency Management at co.washington.tx.us.

Burleson County also offers alerts at http://co.burleson.tx.us/government/emergency-management/emergency-notification.


Suggestions and tips for prolonged outages

What do you do to minimize the effects of a prolonged power outage? Here are suggestions and tips:
 
1. STAY AWAY from damaged electric equipment and downed power lines. An energized line can look just like one that’s not. That power can arc quite a distance from the line, too. Stay far away from downed lines and call 911, then our Control Room at 800-949-4414.
 
If a line falls on a vehicle you are in, don’t get out and don’t touch anything outside the vehicle. The tires insulate and protect you until help arrives. Just wait for emergency workers to reach you.
 
2. LIGHTS: Use flashlights and battery-operated lanterns, not candles if possible. They can cause fires. Keep curtains closed and rooms darkened to preserve cooler temperatures.
 
3. FOOD: Keep your freezer and refrigerator doors shut, because each time you open the door cold air escapes. Food will stay frozen between 36 and 48 hours in a full refrigerator freezer, and up to 24 hours if the freezer is half-full. Different foods thaw at different rates: When in doubt, throw it out.
 
Unopened food will stay cold for only about 4 hours in the refrigerated portion of your appliance. If you are cooking food, do not use the outdoor grill or a charcoal fueled barbecue inside your house, as they can feed carbon monoxide into the house.
 
Use food from the refrigerator first, then the freezer.
 
Contact your doctor about medications you fear may have spoiled.
 
4. PORTABLE GENERATORS: Only use a generator away from the house, never inside, as it can generate carbon monoxide; do not connect it to your home’s electrical system. They can also cause electric shock or fire, so use great care. Generators should be used to power only a few small appliances or lights. Make sure all electrical devices are off before you connect them to a generator, and once the generator is running, switch devices on one at a time. Shut them down again when power is restored.
 
Portable generators can be dangerous and require care when in use. They should be installed by a licensed electrician. Be sure you are comfortable operating one before you use it. If you are unsure, try to avoid using it until you can get enough information to knowledgably power one. More information on backup generators can be found at Energy.gov
 
Also, the American Red Cross has information about safe generator use on its website.
 
5. BEFORE THE POWER IS RESTORED: Disconnect appliances that would automatically turn on when the power is restored. That includes the water heater, TVs, computers and anything else. Leave a couple of lamps on to signal when power is restored, then turn on one appliance at a time. Also a short surge could damage some computers and other devices. Put them on a surge protector if possible.
 
6. LEAVE THE HOUSE: If the heat is too much, consider leaving the house until the evening. Consider going to a mall, movie theater, library or other public facility that has power. If someone is in need of medical care and cannot tolerate a prolonged outage, transport that person to a local hospital or a location where power is available.
 
7. IF YOU STAY: Move to the lowest level of your house because cool air falls; wear lightweight, light-colored clothes; drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
 
Sources: Ready.gov; ConEd.com; Pacific Gas & Electric; redcross.org; Direct Energy


Tips for staying safe during severe weather

The Bluebonnet region is within an area prone to thunderstorms and other severe weather conditions, such as tornadoes, flash floods and hurricanes. When you know the risks and what actions to take, you can better protect your family and property.

Thunderstorms
  • Unplug electronic equipment before the storm arrives.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones and devices, including those plugged in for recharging.
  • Unplug appliances and other electric items such as computers, and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing and bathroom fixtures. They can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal — tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs and bicycles.
Freezing weather
  • Have your heating system inspected by a qualified service professional once a year. This inspection should include cleaning and lubrication, replacing filters, checking belts and thermostats and clearing vents of obstructions, as necessary.
  • Turn off and unplug electric blankets if not in use. Never tuck in electric blankets.
  • Use electric products only for their intended purposes. Hair dryers and space heaters, for example, aren't intended to thaw frozen pipes, dry clothing or warm bedding.
  • Keep flammable materials, such as bedding, clothing, drapes, furniture or rugs, a minimum of 3 feet from portable electric heaters, even ones with safety features such as cut-off switches or heating element guards.
  • Don't use space heaters where children may be unsupervised.
  • Turn off and unplug space heaters when they're not in use.
Flooding
  • Make sure the electric circuit breakers or fuses are clearly marked for each area of your home or business.
  • If high water is approaching and the floor is dry, turn off the electricity at the main circuit breaker or fuse box.
  • Unplug appliances — but again, only if you don't have to stand in water. If possible, move larger appliances such as washing machines to a higher floor, or place them on concrete blocks.
  • If you use a generator, only connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a generator to a home's electric system.
  • Don't go into any room or basement if water is covering appliance cords that are plugged in or if water has reached the wall outlets.
  • Don't enter a room if you hear popping or buzzing, or if you see sparks.
  • If you see downed power lines, call Bluebonnet or 911. Be careful around downed tree limbs. They can conduct electricity from wet or broken power lines.
  • Remain a safe distance from all ground-level electric boxes to avoid a hazard.
  • Before entering a flooded building or basement, make certain the electricity is off.
  • If the electric panel is covered by water, the resident or business should contact an electrician to determine the safety of the unit.
Hurricanes
  • Identify in advance safe travel routes and official shelters.
  • Fill your vehicle's gas tank and keep it as full as possible.
  • If you are in the hurricane zone, cover all windows and doors with permanent storm windows or plywood. (Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.)
  • Install a generator for emergencies, but never use it indoors — even with a fan — because deadly levels of odorless carbon monoxide can build up and linger.
  • If you evacuate, turn off gas, electricity and water.
  • Fill bathtub and other large containers with water for sanitary purposes such as flushing toilets.
  • Turn off propane tanks.
  • Unplug small appliances.
  • Adjust refrigerator and freezer to coldest temperature.
  • Find alternate ways, such as ice chests, to keep food cold.
  • Be aware of downed power lines as they may be charged. Report downed lines to Bluebonnet or 911.
  • Check for gas leaks around your home.
  • Avoid drinking or cooking with tap water until you know it is not contaminated.


5 steps for creating a family plan 

 
1. Put together an emergency supply kit (modeled on the necessity items listed above for a power outage). 
 
2. Discuss escape routes from each room of the house as well as from your neighborhood. 
 
3. Make sure all family members know how to get in touch with one another even if phone service is disrupted, such as meeting at a designated place or reporting in with emergency responders. 
 
4. Create a checklist of what to do before you leave, such as boarding or shuttering windows, trimming tree branches that could hit your home, turning off electricity at the circuit breaker or fuse box, and turning off gas at the meter or tank. 
 
5. Plan what to do with pets and livestock. 
 
Sources: Texas.gov; Texas Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) 
 
Planning ahead can save lives and homes, and offer peace of mind. 
 
Remember: Evacuate if ordered to do so. Call 211 if you are not sure of the evacuation boundaries and shelter locations. 


Checking Hydromet

 
Hours of heavy rain can quickly bring up the rivers, creeks and tributaries that crisscross the area. The landscape of small rolling hills near low-lying towns and subdivisions spreads floodwaters to doorsteps and roads.
  
The LCRA in recent years has expanded its Hydromet system of automated river and weather gauges along the Colorado River and its tributaries. Every 15 minutes the gauges update information about rainfall and streamflow. From Austin to Columbus, a dozen of the Hydromet gauges have been installed in a 25 to 30-mile watershed corridor along the river. To view a map with the gauge locations and for information about how to use the free service go to https://hydromet.lcra.org 

The speed and power of floods in this area was evidenced in late October 2015 when heavy rainfall inundated downtown Bastrop. The Hydromet gauge there registered a rise on Oct. 24 from the normal river stage of about 3 feet of water to more than 15 feet just 24 hours later. By Oct. 31 the river had crested at 36 feet.