During an Outage

Outages can be caused by many things, but usually happen in the stormy fall and winter months when hazardous weather can down power lines, or cause traffic accidents that can do the same. Luckily, outages are relatively rare at Springfield Utility Board (SUB) and tend to last minutes or hours, not days. Still, being prepared for being without power for longer is always advisable.

What to Do During an Outage

If your power is disrupted:

  1. linemen in bucket truck working on power lines during winterCheck your fuse box or breaker panel to see if the problem is with your circuits
  2. If it’s not, call SUB at (541) 746-8451, day or night, to report the outage

Follow these steps to protect you and your appliances when the electricity comes back on:

  • If lightning is causing the outage, consider unplugging your electronic equipment from the wall to avoid surges through the outlets.
  • Turn a light on so you’ll know when the power is back on. Turn a porch light on so SUB’s crews will know when your power has been restored.
  • Do not use a portable generator unless your household circuits are separated from SUB’s lines with a protective switch. This modification to your equipment must be permitted and inspected through the City of Springfield. Without the switch, power lines can suddenly energize and hurt linemen working to repair your service.
  • Do not go near downed lines even if they appear dead. They can become energized again without warning. Do not get out of your car if a downed wire is touching it. Your car will isolate you from harm.

Visit our Electric Safety page for more information on generators and power line safety.

How to Check Your Breaker Panel

If you need to shut off the main power in your house due to an emergency, or if you want to see if an outage affects only your circuits, check your service panel.

  • Most panels have a main switch to cut all the power off
  • If you have an emergency and don’t have a main switch, turn all of the circuit breakers off
  • If you’re shutting off the power to work on an appliance or the wiring, post a sign that says, “Leave power off” so no one will turn it on by mistake

Considerations for Longer, Extended Outages

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. According to ready.gov, generators, camp stoves, or charcoal grills should:

  • Always be used outdoors
  • Be at least 20 feet away from windows
  • Never use a gas stovetop or oven to heat your home

Similarly, if you use your car to charge electronic devices, make sure the vehicle is well away from your home’s doors, windows, and vents to ensure carbon monoxide doesn’t build up in your living spaces, which can be deadly.


Keep freezers and refrigerators closed. According to ready.gov:

  • The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours
  • A full freezer will keep the temperature for about 48 hours
  • Throw away food that has been exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for 2 hours or more
  • Throw away food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture.

Please review the OSU Extension Services Guidelines If your Freezer Stops Working (PDF).

Extreme Temperatures

  • If you are able, check on your neighbors. Older adults and young children are especially vulnerable to extreme temperatures
  • Go to a community location with power if temperatures are extreme.

Outage Tips Videos